SB2454HAWAII – A bill that would create a task force to “determine whether a state-established regulatory regime should be established to address agricultural use of genetically modified organisms” has been passed by two out of three Senate committees so far this session.

SB2454 has already gotten an OK from the Senate Committee on Agriculture and the Senate Committee on Higher Education. On Thursday it will be taken up by the Judiciary and Labor Committee.

According to the bill, the task force shall be composed of:

(1) The dean of the University of Hawaii college of tropical agriculture and human resources or the dean’s designee, who shall serve as chair;

(2) The chairperson of the board of agriculture or the chairperson’s designee;

(3) The director of health or the director’s designee;

(4) The President of the Hawaii Farm Bureau Federation or the President’s designee;

(5) The President of the Hawaii Farmer’s Union United or the President’s designee; and

(6) Four experts with scientific knowledge in the use of genetically modified organisms in agriculture selected by the governor.

Senate Bill 2454 as of Feb. 4, 2014

The Hawaii Farm Bureau Federation, Hawaii Department of Agriculture, and University of Hawaii support the bill.

So does the the Chamber of Commerce of Hawaii and Hawaii Crop Improvement Association, although both organizations are seeking amendments. HCIA Executive Director Alicia Maluafiti made these recommendations in her written testimony:

Amendment 1: Regulatory authorities including the FDA, USDA, and EPA, as well most credible scientific organizations and universities, refer to agricultural biotechnology or genetic engineering when discussing this subject matter. We ask that any reference to GMO be replaced with the more widely accepted and scholarly language of “genetically engineered crops” or “agricultural biotechnology” embraced by the scientific and regulatory community.

Amendment 2: We ask that the Presidents of the Hawaii Papaya Industry Association, Hawaii Floriculture Industry, and Hawaii Crop Improvement Association be added to the task force to allow farmers growing GE crops the opportunity to provide perspective on the work that they do.Alicia Maluafiti, HCIA on Jan. 30, 2014

Kauai County Coincilmember Gary Hooser supported the measure in principle in his written testimony, “if representation on the task force includes members from each County and from small farmers that utilize conventional and organic methods, not just GMO technology. I believe including all affected parties is imperative and will constitute a more accurate and impartial outcome.”

“In addition”, Hooser wrote, “any statewide regulatory scheme must represent “a floor not a ceiling,” and not preempt counties from enacting greater protection if circumstances specific to that county warrants such action.”

Numerous individuals associated with the anti-GMO movement testified in opposition.

Status of bills represent up-to-date information via State Legislative website

SB2454 – Establishes a task force to determine whether a state-established regulatory regime should be established to address agricultural use of genetically modified organisms.

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