Council to debate dueling GMO bills


Hawaii County Council members can expect to debate dueling bills regarding genetically modified crops the next time they try to tackle the issue.

Both Kohala Councilwoman Margaret Wille and South Kona/Ka‘u Councilwoman Brenda Ford are working on their own legislation that they plan to introduce shortly.

Wille introduced the original anti-GMO bill in May but recently withdrew it to develop a more fine-tuned version at the request of other council members.

At the last meeting of the Public Safety and Mass Transit Committee meeting, Ford also said she planned to come up with her own version. Her staff confirmed she is working on a bill but Ford could not be reached for comment.

Wille said her new bill includes a GMO ban with exemptions for the papaya industry. There will also be exemptions for transgenic crops that are grown in an enclosed structure, she said.

That could include greenhouses used by the floral industry, Wille said. The exemption would apply to research institutions, assuming no open field trials, she said.

The bill also removes a section on enforcement, Wille said.

She has not introduced the new bill yet, but said she expects it to be discussed at a meeting in early September.