Agri-business News GMO Crops on Hawaii

Published on December 18th, 2013 | by Becky Striepe

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GMO Crops Face Limits in Hawaii

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GMO Crops on Hawaii

Three Hawaiian islands may be limiting companies who grow GMO crops.

Hawaii is becoming kind of a hotbed for GMO regulation right now! The Kauai County Council recently overrode the mayor’s veto, which passed a bill limiting the use of pesticides near schools, hospitals, waterways, public roadways, etc. The vast majority of these pesticides were being sprayed on GMO crops, so the bill in effect limits where companies like Dow Chemical can grow GMOs.

Two other island: Hawaii and Maui may soon follow suit.

Maui County Councilwoman Elle Cochran introduced a bill that would force biotech companies to disclose where they were planting GMO crops and spraying related pesticides. The Maui bill is based on the one that just passed in Kauai, so if it passes we can expect to see limits on GMO crops on Maui.

Hawaii passed an even stronger bill earlier this month that actually limits companies from planting any new GMO crops. The Hawaii bill excludes GMO papaya, though, so companies can still plant that without approval. Mayor Billy Kenoi said:

This ordinance expresses the desires and demands of our community for a safe, sustainable agricultural sector that can help feed our people while keeping our precious island productive and healthy.

It’s not news that – over time – biotech crops lead to increased use of pesticides. Yes, at first farmers can sometimes use fewer pesticides, but as local weeds build resistance, GMO crops need more and more pesticides to keep weeds at bay. On small islands like Kauai, Maui, and Hawaii, these pesticides concentrate more quickly in the ecosystem, contaminating water and causing health problems for residents.

Image Credit: Hawaiian Islands Map via Shutterstock

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About the Author

My name is Becky Striepe (rhymes with “sleepy”), and I am a crafts and food writer from Atlanta, Georgia with a passion for making our planet a healthier, happier, and more compassionate place to live. My mission is to make vegan food and crafts accessible to everyone!. If you like my work, you can also find me on Twitter, Facebook, and .



  • Sasha

    The two County Council ordinances were passed solely for political reasons, not on science or evidence. Your last paragraph is entirely incorrect. As someone who eats, you should be careful of spreading fear-mongering that hurts farmers, even if it’s about a place where you don’t live. Farmers in Hawaii have a tough time staying in business especially because of the high costs of land, water, electricity, fuel, transportation, and labor. In addition, since we don’t have a winter chill season, our insects and weeds are not practically controllable without the use of pesticides. They have not caused health problems in Hawaii and when used properly, they do not contaminate the environment here, or elsewhere. Please talk to a real farmer in Hawaii before you repeat the propaganda. Thank you.

    • http://glueandglitter.com/main Becky Striepe

      Thank you for your comment. I am not advocating that Hawaiian farmers quit using all pesticides. Rather, I was pointing out that GMOs do not reduce the amount of pesticides that farmers use. The increase in superweeds and the increased use of pesticides is not propaganda. It’s fact based on science.

    • http://www.purakai.com Noel Huelsenbeck

      Interesting comment Sasha. First off why comment anonymously? Why not join the conversation by using your real name so we know we’re replying to a concerned human and not some hired hand from Monsanto that makes comments anonymously?

      I understand the issue very well. I’ve talked to hundreds of farmers, from the local growers I buy from at farmers markets (who sometimes use pesticides) to large mono-crop corporate owned farms. For instance the farmer that grows the organic cotton for our clothing in the San Joaquin Valley of California grows 27 different crops. He grows GMO, conventional and organic. I talk with him extensively about the use of pesticides and because it’s his land, and it will be for generations, he needs to A) make a profit that allows him to keep the land B) Be a steward of the land so he can continue to make a profit year after year. C) Raise a family that doesn’t become ill

      The laws being proposed in Hawaii aren’t about small scale Hawaiian farmers, they’re about corporate greed and the industrialization of agriculture. For the reasons given above GMO’s are not a viable long term solution and as Hawaii is the crown jewel of bio-diversity in the USA we should protect the integrity of the soil and keep it out of the hands of bio-hacking corporations. The GMO purveyors are solely in this for short term PROFIT, they could care less about our future generations ability to have a secure food supply and clean water. And this is DOCUMENTED not fear mongering.

      I would love to discuss the pro’s and cons of GMO’s but please A) be honest about your identity B) Provide an example of a farmer that would be impacted by this law so we can understand the issue in greater detail. Mahalo!

  • http://www.purakai.com Noel Huelsenbeck

    This is great news! We finally have a way to show we can make a difference in keeping our soil bio-diverse and free from Monsanto’s Round-Up! It’s true that GMO’s can provide better yields but the question is at what cost? Are contaminated ground water, sickened workers, loss of bees and butterflies and the safety of children in agricultural areas that are affected because the spray from crop dusters drifts for miles worth it? I think not!

    Buy organic today and be part of creating happy bio-diverse soil for the generations of tomorrow. And this includes organic clothing too. :)

    • http://glueandglitter.com/main Becky Striepe

      Amen to that, Noel, and that is a great point about clothing. Conventional cotton is one of my pet peeves! So many companies tout cotton as a green fabric, when conventional cotton is anything but.

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