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Residents Want Genetically Modified Foods Labeled

February 24, 2008

HONOLULU - The rainbow papaya is pumped-up to be more powerful, genetically modified to resist the destructive ringspot virus.

It's a stronger fruit, but it looks the same as an organic papaya.

Some said that is the problem.

"I just think it makes sense that people have a choice in what they buy," said Shelly Wilkinson, a concerned Big Island resident. "Whether we are buying produce that has been grown conventionally, whether it's been genetically engineered or whether it's organic."

A group of concerned residents collected 4,000 signatures from Hawaii residents who want genetically modified foods to be labeled.

It's required in other countries, like Japan and Australia, but not in the United States. Some DNA altered foods have shown to cause allergies in humans.

"I don’t know enough about the things they are putting in the food, so I just want to know which foods have them so I can have the choice whether to look into it and still choose to get them, or totally choose that it's not what I want for my family or myself," said Penelope Perez, of Hawaii Citizens for Food Choice.

Sen. Mike Gabbard is pushing the labeling bill, and also another one to help organic farmers like Curtis Faltstrom know who his neighbors are.

"We don't know where all the plots are," said Faltstrom, who has a small farm in Kahaluu. "It could be right next to me and I wouldn't know."

SB 3233 would require bio-tech companies to report to the Department of Agriculture where their genetically modified crops are being grown. The locations would be posted online.

"If you have pollen drift from your neighbors it can get into your organic produce and make it non-organic," Faltstrom said. "You cannot have organically grown, and contain GMO."

There have been no hearings scheduled yet for those two bills.

They must be heard by the Agriculture and Environment Committees by Thursday in order to state alive in the Senate.

  Mike Gabbard - State Senate| P.O. Box 75480 Kapolei, Hawaii 96707
Phone: (808) 682-0676 | Fax:(808) 682-2591 | E-mail: mike@mikegabbard.com