HONOLULU -February 24, 2008- Members of a newly formed ad-hoc community group, Hawaii Citizens for Food Choice presented Senator Mike Gabbard with over 4,000 signatures gathered through a statewide petition at a news conference at the State Capitol today.

The petition urges state lawmakers to pass important legislation (SB 3232) which would require all genetically engineered (GE) whole foods sold in Hawaii to be labeled and (SB3233), which would compel biotech companies to identify the location of test plots and production of GE crops.

Gabbard said, "The main thing about this issue is that we live in a democracy where people have the right to know what we put in our bodies. National statistics show that up to 94% of people want GE foods labeled. Even Senators Obama and Clinton have weighed in favoring the labeling of GE foods. And here locally, a recent study done by UH shows that 85% of Hawaii residents think it’s important that GE fruit be labeled.”

“The second bill,” Gabbard said, “is meant to give people more information on what's happening on our lands. It’s actually a “good neighbor” bill because those who are growing GE crops would be required to report their location to the Department of Agriculture (DOA), who would post this information on their website, thus making it readily available to the public.”

Hawaii Citizens for Food Choice was started less than a month ago by Kailua resident, Penelope Perez. Ms. Perez said, "I read an article in the paper about these bills and was motivated to get involved. I'm a single mom and don't have a lot of time on my hands, but I feel strongly that I've got the right to know what I'm eating and what I’m feeding my son. Frankly, I couldn't believe how easy it was to get this many signatures.”

Gabbard thanked the group for getting involved in the process. He said, “The results of these petitions make it even clearer that the people of Hawaii want to be able to choose whether they eat GE foods or not. Labeling is the only way to provide that option. Both of these bills are really about democracy and letting the public know that our elected officials are listening to them.
We’re hopeful and confident that the voices of Hawaii’s people will be heard."

SB 3232 and SB 3233 have been referred to the Senate Agriculture/Hawaiian Affairs and Senate Energy/Environment committees. Both bills must be passed out of the committees by Thursday, February 28th.

Senator Gabbard represents District 19, which includes Waikele, Village Park, Royal Kunia, Makakilo, Kapolei, Kalaeloa, Honokai Hale, and portions of Waipahu and Ko 'Olina. For more information about this legislation, contact his office at 586-6830.