July 17, 2019
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KCFA Position on Genetically Modified Coffee Stock

GMO Position

adopted April 19, 2006


WHEREAS, coffee has been grown continuously in the districts of North and South Kona for over one hundred and seventy years and is acknowledged to be one of the highest quality coffees in the world and the ” Guatemalan”  cultivar, also referred to as Kona typica, is the predominant variety grown;

WHEREAS, the close to two century-long heritage of Kona coffee has produced a unified community uniquely rich in history and culture unlike anywhere in the world; and

WHEREAS, Kona Coffee today provides an enormous economic contribution to the County of Hawaii and the State of Hawaii, generating approximate yields of 3 million pounds of green coffee annually with an estimated income at the farm gate in excess of fifteen million dollars, and a much higher value at the wholesale and retail levels, supplemented by an increasing amount of ag-tourism dollars earned daily from the Kona Coffee Festival, farm tours, and other expanding coffee belt activities, is produced on approximately 650 farms, employing 650 families and other farm workers;

WHEREAS, the high farm gate value enjoyed by Kona coffee growers and the expanding “niche market” established by the Kona coffee industry merits thoughtful, respectful, and protective attention from responsible federal and state agencies, and private entrepreneurial interests involved in the development of biotechnology; and

WHEREAS, although coffee is primarily self pollinated, since it may be cross pollinated approximately 10% of the time, non-genetically modified coffee in neighboring orchards could become pollinated with genetically modified (GM) pollen;

WHEREAS , organic coffee is an expanding high value “niche” crop within the Kona Coffee industry and organic coffee must contain no trace of GM interference and organic coffee farmers would not be able to prove non-contamination from GM plantings in the region except at high cost for special DNA tests; and

WHEREAS, the Specialty Coffee Association of America has stated that a genetically modified coffee is not consistent with their definition of quality; and

WHEREAS, with delayed acceptance or non-acceptance of genetically modified coffee and some other crops by Japan and European Union nations, as well as the fact that several states of the United States are currently reviewing legislation that would require genetically modified foods to be labeled, the price of genetically modified Kona coffee could be negatively impacted due to decreased demand; and

WHEREAS , before commercialization, genetically engineered plants/organisms must conform with standards set by State and Federal marketing statutes including state seed certification laws, the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FFDCA), the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA), the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), and the Federal Plant Pest Act; and

WHEREAS, while it is recognized that the Kona Coffee Farmers Association has no regulatory authority nor scientific competence to regulate the release and development of GM crops, the KCFA may legitimately respond to the concerns of farmers and others with a stake in the future of Kona’s gourmet coffee industry, and may further express such concerns to those agencies and institutions responsible for the development, permitting, oversight and regulation of GM crops.

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED BY THE KONA COFFEE FARMERS ASSOCIATION, that the Kona Coffee Farmers Association opposes the introduction of genetically modified coffee plants into the State of Hawaii and requests the following:

1. A moratorium on the release of genetically modified coffee plants into the State of Hawaii until a regulatory regime has been adopted that includes extensive evaluation of genetic contamination from pollen drift and other environmental consequences and secondary ecological effects.

2. A statute, regulation, and/or rule that liability for any external costs to individuals and the environment caused by physical spillover effects, such as genetic contamination from pollen drift, must be borne by the growers, manufacturers and distributors of genetically engineered plants.

3. In conjunction with the establishment of an adequate regulatory regime as outlined in item(1) above, a requirement that genetically modified plantings to be explicitly labeled as such, and neighboring properties notified–the costs of such labeling and notification to be borne by the owner or lessee of the planted land.

4. A requirement that any coffee produced from genetically modified plants to be explicitly labeled as such at every stage of its production through to sale to provide adequate information to processors and consumers–the costs of such labeling and verification to be borne by the growers and processors of the genetically modified coffee.