Bill 79 would have effectively banned new genetically modified organisms on the island, although there would have been some exemptions – like the transgenic papayas that are a big part of Hawaii Island’s papaya industry, or the ornamental flower business, another big agricultural sector.
On Tuesday before a full council chamber in Hilo, the Hawaii County Council finally got a chance to discuss the bill, after days of testimony held in the weeks and months prior. There were also numerous postponements – including a cancellation thanks to the threat of Tropical Storm Flossie.
Even though there was no decision on the matter, the back and forth was the first opportunity for the public to hear where the councilmembers stood on the issue. There seemed to be a lot of support for the intent of the bill, but most on the council found it to be too broad and in need of simplification.
Much of the conversation revolved around the creation of either a task force or an ad hoc committee to study the issue more closely. Since nothing was agendized, no vote on such a concept could be taken.
Kona councilwoman Karen Eoff questioned Coporation Counsel Lincoln Ashida about the differences between an Ad Hoc committee and a Task Force.
Hawaii County GMO bill 79 – Task Force or Ad Hoc Committee?
Also, councilmembers questioned the legality of the bill. Ashida said he has gotten no answer from the state after he expressed his own concerns to the attorney general.
Hawaii County GMO bill 79 – Legal questions unanswered
This isn’t the end of Hawaii County’s attempt at GMO regulation. Councilwoman Wille says a new bill is in the making. However, like before – it will need to go through another round of public hearings. It is unlikely that there will be any decision making before the end of the summer.