The governing council for Hawaii (or Big) Island Tuesday banned biotech companies from operating on the island while barring growth of genetically modified organisms. The Hawaii County Council approved Bill 113 by a vote of 6-3, which would mandate a possible 30 days in jail and up to a $1,000 fine for any violator of the ban on growing genetically modified organisms (GMOs) on Big Island. The bill also keeps out biotech giants likeMonsanto, Dow and BASF, which have operations on other Hawaiian islands. One of them, Kauai, recently advanced its own legislation that increases regulation of biotech companies there. The large papaya industry, with around 200 farms on Big Island, would be exempt from the bill, which was supported over a competing bill that would have subjected papayas to the rules.
“We are at a juncture,” Councilwoman Margaret Wille, who introduced the bill, said to Honolulu Civil Beat of the Big Island. “Do we move forward in the direction of the agro-chemical monoculture model of agriculture, or do we move toward eco-friendly, diversified farming?”