The Hawaii County Council today will decide whether to pursue a legal appeal of its anti-GMO law, which was overturned last month by a federal judge on the same state pre-emption grounds that killed the Kauai GMO/pesticide regulatory bill.
Hawaii County Ordinance 13-121 banned the cultivation and open-air testing of any new genetically engineered (GE) crops, which would have effectively stifled research intended to help small lettuce and flower growers by developing disease-resistant varieties. Cattle ranchers also would have been prohibited from growing GE corn that would have allowed them to finish their livestock on-island, rather than sending them to mainland feedlots.
Seeing the bill as an attack on Big Island agriculture, the Hawaii Floriculture and Nursery Association, Hawaii Papaya Industry Association, Big Island Banana Growers Association, Hawaii Cattlemen's Council, Pacific Floral Exchange and farmers Richard Ha, Jason Moniz, Gordon Inouye and Eric Tanouye joined the Biotechnology Industry Association to successfully challenge its implementation.
But even though the appeal had broad-based support among the Big Island agricultural community, and the bill itself was passed in a contentious 6-3 vote of the County Council, mainland-based advocacy groups like Earthjustice and Center for Food Safety continue to falsely portray the legal issue as “chemical corporations undermine the will of the people.”
And they wonder why they are rapidly losing credibility in the state. Why not drop the bullshit, guys, and stick to the truth?
In its press release about the Hawaii County bill being overturned, CFS states:
Large biotechnology companies such as Monsanto and Syngenta experiment with genetically engineered crops in Hawai`i because it offers year round growing conditions. Most of these crops are engineered to resist herbicides and pesticides. Testing these crops means repeated spraying of dangerous chemicals near neighborhoods, schools, and waterways.
Except that isn't actually happening on the Big Island, where Rainbow papaya is the only commercially cultivated GE crop. And it was engineered to help farmers reduce pesticide use by creating a variety resistant to the ringspot virus that was devastating that industry.
CFS is also circulating a petition urging the Council to support an appeal that states:
A large body of evidence shows that GE crop operations in the State of Hawai‘i, their heavy pesticide use and industrial farming methods have direct and harmful impacts on soil, water and air quality, while contributing no edible crops to our local food supply.
Pray tell, where is that large body of evidence? Or even a teensy, tiny body of evidence? As for contributing no edible crops to our local food supply, what about papaya? Or all the small farmers who cultivate crops in the fallow seed fields, and depend on the companies to maintain the irrigation systems they share?
Buried in the second-to-last paragraph on the website hosting the petition, CFS states the real reason why it's here fomenting unrest in Hawaii. And it has nothing to do with protecting the Islands from poisons, and everything to do with advancing CFS's own national agenda (emphasis in the original):
The outcome of this case could affect all U.S. counties, because it is the first legal challenge to a county law of this kind. It is vital that the Hawai‘i County Council appeal the ruling and stand up for the rights of County to enact legislation to protect itself from the negative impact GE seed operations can have on agriculture and the environment.
CFS can't get any traction at the federal level, so it's trying to create case law in small, rural municipalities where gullible citizens are easily manipulated and misled using fear tactics and such “talking points” as “home rule." Never mind that they have no intention of granting such rights to the Molokai residents who overwhelming rejected the Maui County GMO moratorium initiative, which is also being challenged in the courts.
An email sent out by GMO Free Hawaii Island also contains such ludicrous contentions as:
Accepting the lower court decision means accepting that GMO contamination of conventional and organic farms is legal, legitimate, moral, and ok to do.
Accepting the lower Court decision amounts to a wonton disregard of the property property rights and health concerns of those who do not use or want GMO crops and plants.
Accepting the lower Court decision without opposition is a rejection of the state motto of Ua Mau Ke Ea O Ka Aina I Ka Pono (“The Life of the Land is Perpetuated in Righteousness.")
Uh, no. Accepting the federal court decision means this: Refusing to spend taxpayer money advancing the agenda of mainland advocacy groups.
Ironically, Hawaii CFS spokeswoman Ashley Lukens told me the other day that she was tired of the divisiveness and negativity that characterizes the anti-GMO movement in the Islands.
Aren't we all.
But so long as her boss, CFS Director Andrew Kimbrell, continues to rally the troops with his overblown, deceptive rhetoric, it's gonna be hard to mend fences.