Yesterday, December 5, 2013, Mayor Billy Kenoi signed Bill 113 into law, banning biotech companies and new genetically modified crops from the Big Island of Hawaii. The island’s GMO papaya industry is exempt from the bill. The law reflects Hawaiian sentiments to encourage community-based farming, as opposed to letting global corporations take over their agriculture. Biotech companies have not yet begun operations on the Big Island, and the new bill will help keep it that way.
Much of Hawaii’s agricultural sector opposed the bill, and, the mayor said, some farmers were “treated disrespectfully” while the new legislation was being debated. Kenoi urges community healing and an end to the angry rhetoric that lead to the passage of the bill. Just a few weeks ago, Kauai passed its own law to regulate GMO and pesticide usage.
“Our community has a deep connection and respect for our land, and we all understand we must protect our island and preserve our precious natural resources,” Kenoi wrote to council members. “We are determined to do what is right for the land because this place is unlike any other in the world.”