Hawaii Takes Center Stage in Growing Anti-GMO Movement

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Common Dreams

Hawaii Takes Center Stage in Growing Anti-GMO Movement

Upcoming vote on Big Island would restrict cultivation of transgenic crops

by
Common Dreams staff

(Photo: Farmanac/cc/flickr)

Hawaii is the latest stage for the growing movement against genetically modified organisms (GMOs).

As the Hawaii Tribune Herald reported, the Hawaii County Council voted 6-3 on Tuesday to pass a bill that "restricts the expansion of transgenic crops grown on the Big Island by limiting most of their use to enclosed structures, such as a greenhouse."

Cheering the vote, Volcano resident Blake Watson said, “This is a great first step.”

Excluded from the bill, according to the Associated Press, are farmers who already grow GM crops, like papaya growers, who "largely rely on transgenic varieties."

Mayor Billy Kenoi has said he will decide next week whether to veto or approve the bill.

The vote on the big island "comes just days after the Hawaiian island of Kauai pushed forward legislation that severely increases regulations of biotech companies," the Huffington Post reports.

Explaining the growing momentum against the biotechnology companies in Hawaii, Andrea Brower recently wrote:

To understand the "why" of our local struggle, it firstly needs to be situated in a larger global movement that is responding to a radically unjust, anti-democratic and ecologically destructive food and agricultural system. On Kauai, the movement is partly about the local manifestations of that food system -- the poisoning of land and people for the development of new technologies that the world does not want, and does not need. It is a response to resident grievances over breathing in pesticide-laden dust on a daily basis for the past 15 years; parent and teacher anger after dozens of students were poisoned a second and third time; local physician concerns that they are noticing higher rates of illnesses and rare birth defects; the frustration of Native Hawaiian taro farmers watching rivers go dry as chemical companies divert and dump water; beekeeper fears that they will be next to loose organic certification due to pesticide contamination, or experience hive die-off from the known bee-killers. [...]

We are on the verge of forcing insidiously powerful corporations to disclose what kinds of toxic experiments they are conducting on our land and people. And this is just the very tip of what is happening on Kauai, and what is increasingly happening around the world. As we build new solidarities, connect the dots of destruction in our food system, and situate these in the broader economic-political context, we are having new conversations and thinking in ways that push the boundaries of what is considered possible. We are beginning to talk seriously about our fundamental human rights to clean air, water and soil; about the colonial legacy of concentrated land ownership; about the privatization of the resources needed to grow food; about the injustices of an economic system where competitive profit accumulation is the only defining logic; and about the possibility of new ways, often based in old knowledge and wisdom.

Though the chemical companies may be devastating our lands and waters, they have not devastated our imaginations. Whether or not we pass a bill, we are growing the momentum, intelligence and creativity of a movement that will continue to take bigger and bolder steps. The food movement, locally and globally, is rising, and it isn't going away. And we will win, because the world we are fighting for is what the vast majority of people want, and we are simply reminding people how to believe that it is in fact possible to make that world.

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