GE Labeling, Farm Notification Bills Introduced by Senator Gabbard

HONOLULU -January 25, 2008- Food labeling and farm notification bills related to genetically engineered (GE) crops, also known as genetically modified organisms – GMOs, have been introduced in the Hawaii State Legislature by Senator Mike Gabbard (Dist. 19- Waikele, Village Park, Royal Kunia, Makakilo, Kapolei, Kalaeloa, Honokai Hale, Portions of Waipahu and Ko 'Olina.)

Senate Bill 3232 would require labeling for all GE whole foods sold in Hawaii (fruits and vegetables in their raw or natural state). Senate Bill 3233 would require companies to reveal the location of test plots and production of GE crops.

“These bills are about consumer choice,” says Gabbard. “People have a right to know what food they put in their bodies and what is happening on our lands, and they should be informed.”

Gabbard said his bills reflect the wishes of almost all Hawaii residents. A local study published last year by a professor at the University of Hawaii at Hilo showed that 85% of the people surveyed felt it was important that genetically modified fruits be labeled. Gabbard says this finding confirms polls conducted on the mainland, which concluded that an overwhelming majority of people favor the labeling of GE foods.

"The bottom line is that people have the right to choose whether they eat a GE papaya or not,” he explains. “And, they have the right to know whether a company is testing GE crops nearby.”

Knowing the location of GE test fields is of particular concern to organic and conventional farmers worried about the potential for GE contamination of their crops. Their concern is understandable, says Gabbard. “With over 4,000 permits having been issued to conduct GE testing in the state, Hawaii is one of the primary biotech research and development centers on the planet.”

For more information about this legislation, contact Senator Gabbard's office at 586-6830.