June 24, 2019
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GMO Coffee (and Kalo) Bill Passes Council

GMO Coffee (and Kalo) Bill Passes Council

taken from KCFA Newsletter 10.09.08

County Council Bill #361 restricting release of GMO taro and coffee in the
County was passed by the Council 10/8/08 by a vote of 9-0. More than 5.5 hours of testimony came from 93 people, of which 69% testified in favor of the Bill, followed by an hour of deliberation by the Council prior to the vote at 7:15 pm.

The Kona Coffee Council, despite the Position Statement posted on their website, had their Board members Steve Collector, Gloria Bivens, David Bateman, and Tom Greenwell testifying in opposition, and stating that this was the position of the KCC. Members of the KCC in the audience who later testified, were not aware that the KCC had made any such change to their
position.

Councilman Yagong noted that, as part of his due diligence, he randomly called coffee farmers in the County and 82% (73 out of 89 contacted) favored Bill 361 and the restrictions on GMO coffee. Yagong observed, “the majority stood loud and clear” on the matter. Councilman
Stacy Higa, who voted against the Bill on the first reading, said Yagong’s survey had changed his mind.

Councilwoman Brenda Ford noted that her constituents had gathered 1,269
signatures on a petition in support in less than a week and submitted the petition to the Council along with hundreds of other supporting written testimonies. Among the testimony was a letter in support of the Bill signed by seven former KCC Presidents.

Councilman Pete Hoffmann noted the Council had heard “big money speaking and grants being threatened” in the testimony in opposition – all because of what is a sensible attempt on the Council’s part to protect just two crops in the county. The opposition seems afraid of what they see as a “line in the sand”, a precedent – rather than practical protection of our County farmers.

We applaud and thank the Hawaii County Council for having the courage of their convictions. And our thanks also to the taro (kalo) farmers for their mutual support.