Thursday, April 3, 2008

Agriculture Committee passes GMO Taro bill with amendments

Rep. Clift Tsuji, Chairman of the House Committee on Agriculture, announced today the committee passed out SB958, in an amended form, to include a five-year moratorium on genetically modifying any Hawaiian taro within the state. The moratorium does not include non-Hawaiian varieties of taro.

In his opening statement to the committee, Rep. Tsuji emphasized that the bill does not prohibit or discourage the research, testing and planting of genetically modified non-Hawaiian taro. Further, the bill does not prohibit or discourage the genetic modification of any plant organism other than Hawaiian taro.

"The day-long hearing on this bill was very informative, and I think our members were appreciative of the thoughtful and well-researched points from testifiers on both sides," said Rep. Tsuji. "As a result of that day, we worked very hard to reach a fair compromise, and one that is respectful of both the Hawaiian culture and scientific research."

The measure passed the committee with a vote of seven (7) ayes, two (2) ayes with reservations, and three (3) noes. The ayes were: Brower, Chang, Herkes, Manahan, Tsuji, Yamane, Yamashita. The WR's were: Ching, Wakai. The noes were: Berg, Hanohano, Meyer.

The effective date of the bill is July 1, 2008. The bill now goes to the entire House for a floor vote. If passed by the House, the bill goes back to the Senate. If the Senate does not agree with the House amendments, the bill will head to a conference committee.


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Anonymous said...

What an embarrassing revision, masked as a "compromise". Chair Tsuji should be ashamed!

Anonymous said...

To the contrast, Rep. Tsuji should be congratulated. You want all or nothing, and that's not the democratic process. No one is totally happy in a compromise, but it's fair.

Anonymous said...

I don't want all or nothing. All three neighbor island counties supported this bill as originally drafted. Rather than a compromise that would perhaps cut the length of the moratorium from 10 to 5 years, the revisions inserted language explicitly limiting counties home rule by prohibiting them from addressing GMOs through zoning or land use ordinances. What's up with that? I'm not buying that there is anything fair about these revisions. If anything, they seem mean spirited in that they punish the counties for speaking up.