POSTED: 7 FEBRUARY 2005 - 8:30am HST

GMO Legislative Action Alert!

detail of logo of GMO Free Kauai organization

by Judy Dalton 7 February 2005

If you're concerned about genetically modified organisms and wish to weigh in on issues that come before the legislature, please contact the List-Subscribe below. In the meantime you can take action right now on these bills. Scroll down to read what they're about. There's an easy script ready to read when you call by using this toll-free number from Kaua`i: 274-3141. At the prompt just enter the last 5 digits of the legislators' telephone numbers.

I will not be forwarding messages as hearings are often scheduled within 48 hours, so it's best that you sign up directly with GMO Free Hawai`i. To receive future alerts send a blank e-mail to:

For other environmental legislative alerts, sign up with Sierra Club at:

Welcome, Friends, to GMO Free Hawaii's State Action listserve.
GMO-Free Hawaii is a coalition of all the island groups working to move Hawaiian agriculture away from genetic engineering. We now have active groups on all the major Hawaiian islands.

This is a new listserve to help mobilize those of us across the state who want to help create a GMO-free Hawaii.

Somewhere along the way, you signed our petition, gave us your e-mail, or said you supported our efforts to protect Hawaii and its people from genetic engineering. This listserve is a way to network the thousands of people who have signed up to support this movement across Hawaii; we will send out periodic action alerts to mobilize all the members of our coalition so we can use our numbers to help create real change on this issue.

We understand that you probably already receive a lot of e-mail, but we will limit what we send you to a few critical action alerts, particularly in the realm of legislation where your written testimony has the power to make a difference.

The bulk of your help is needed during Hawaii's short Legislative session, from now through the beginning of April, during which time we will be sending you an alert about once a week. We have the potential to use our power as Hawaii's citizens to get our representatives to truly represent us on this issue. With your help, the legislature will know how many people are behind these bills and they will be influenced to vote accordingly.

We often are only given 24 or 48 hours notice before testimony is due, so it is important that you send testimony as quickly as possible.

Thank you for caring about your future and the future of Hawaii and taking the time to make a difference.

Below is your first action alert:


We need your help to get 3 important GMO bills scheduled for hearings in the House ASAP. HB 247 on bioprospecting has passed its first hearing.
Now, we need your help to get the bioprospecting bill scheduled for one more joint committee hearing along with a biopharmaceutical bill, and a test site disclosure bill.

It will take only 5 minutes to call the chairs of the 2 committees below.

Please call-
AG committee chair- Rep. Felipe Abinsay (808-586-6010)
(Dist. 29- O'ahu-Central Kalihi, Kokea St./ Middle St/ School St/ Sand Island)
Ask him to hear HB247, HB1439, HB1024

EDB committee chair- Rep. Robert Herkes
(Dist. 5- Hawai'i- Honaunau, Ho'okena, Milolii, Na'alehu, Punalu'u, Volcano)
Ask him to hear HB247

It's most important to call the chairs of both committees.

When calling the AG chair- Rep. Felipe Abinsay (808-586-6010)
Here's what you could say.....
"Hi, my name is _____. I'm calling in regards to HB247, relating to bioprospecting, HB 1439 relating to biopharmaceutical crops, and HB 1024 relating to disclosure of GMO field tests. I would like to request a hearing for these three bills as soon as possible. This is legislation that is long overdue. Mahalo."

When calling someone only on the EDB committee (Herkes, Ching, Marumoto). Here's what you could say.....
"Hi, my name is _____. I'm calling in regards to HB247, relating to bioprospecting. I would like to request a hearing for this bill as soon as possible. This is legislation that is long overdue. Mahalo."

If you live in their district, please be sure to tell them that as well. If you have more time; here's the contact list for the rest of the committee members. Calling them will increase the chances of getting a hearing scheduled. If you live in one of their districts, please be sure to tell them that you live in their district. Your voice has more power.

(AG- vice chair, EDB) Clift Tsuji- 586-8480
(Dist. 3 South Hilo, Panaewa, Puna, Keaau, Kurtistown)

(AG/ EDB) Jerry Chang- 586-6120
(Dist. 2 - South Hilo, Waiakea Kai, Kaumana, Keaukaha)

(AG/ EDB) Jon Karamatsu-586-8490
(Dist. 41 - Waipahu, Village Park, Waikele)

(AG/ EDB) Michael Magaoay- 586-6380
(Dist. 46 - Kaena Point, Schofield, Mokuleia, Waialua, Haleiwa, Waimea, Pupukea, Sunset, Kahuku )

(AG/ EDB) Kyle Yamashita- 586-6330
(Dist. 12 - Pukalani, Makawao, Olinda, Pulehu, Kula, Ulupalakua)

(AG) Chris Halford- 586-8525
(Dist. 11 - Makawao, Makena, Wailea, Wailuku)

(AG) Bud Stonebraker- 586- 6420
(Dist. 17 - Kalama Valley, Queen's Gate, Hawaii Kai)

(AG/ EDB- vice chair) Glenn Wakai- 586-6220
(Dist. 31 - Moanalua Valley, Moanalua, Salt Lake)

(EDB) Corrine Ching- 586-9415

(Dist. 27 - Nuuanu, Puunui, Liliha)

(EDB) Barbara Marumoto- 586-6310
(Dist. 19 - Kaimuki, Waialae, Kalani Valley, Diamond Head)

HB 1439 Regulates pharmaceutical crops.

This bill
• prohibits pharmcrops in common animal and human food crops
• prohibits open air testing of pharmcrops
• requires a tracking system of pharmcrops be implemented
• temporarily halts the growing of pharmcrops until a tracking system is in place.
• violation of this bill would result in civil penalties of up to 1 million dollars per day of violation

HB 1024 Disclosure of GMO Field Test Sites and Crops

This bill
• Requires public disclosure of experimental GMO field test sites. Currently these are kept secret.
• Requires public disclosure of what they are growing on those test sites.
Currently this is kept secret as well.

HB 247 Bioprospecting

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Scientific & Cultural Arguments Against GMO's Presented

SOURCE: JUAN WILSON 31 January 2005 - 8:30pm

Report on GMO-Free Kauai Presentation
by Juan Wilson 31 January 2005

The meeting was held on 25 January 2005 in Lihue and was well attended. There were elements of a Hawaiian culture in the tone and details of the evenings events. There was a traditional blessing to open the meeting. Hawaiian music filled the air and there was a potluck luau before the speakers took the stage.

There were five speakers. Each made a 15 minute presentation on genetically modified organisms (GMO's) before questions were taken from the audience. Please forgive the spottiness of this report. It was difficult for me to take notes fast enough or accurately enough to catch the volume of material presented, but here is what I was able to catch.

The Culture of Taro
by Mehana, teacher from a cultural immersion program on Kauai
Mehana is a teacher of farming and environmental science in a language immersion elementary school on the north shore of Kauai. She presented a series of Hawaiian fables to illustrate the importance of respect for karo (taro), aina (land) and all that keep them healthy.

Each fable had a moral that focused on the cultural importance of karo and the wisdom of traditional Hawaiian methods that proved to be healthy and sustainable.

The morals included:

• treating karo with the respect of an older sibling
• thankfulness for bounty, that includes sharing resources for best results
• being patient for long term good. Remember what worked in the past
• pay attention to where you live. Kuliana does not stop at edge of loi.

State Seizes GMO as Solution to Problems
by Hector Venezuela of the University of Hawaii
Mr Venezuela is a specialist on vegetable crops at UH. His organization helps provide technical assistance to farmers on how to grow crops. Mr Venezuela began by saying that the Hawaiian State constitution commits us to maintain agricultural land and to seek self sufficiency.

The rural areas of the state want to stay the way they are. The UH program is trying to help farmers with a technology that is free of pesticides and chemicals and achieve real self sufficiency in farming.

In the 1990's the agriculture in the state was changed by shifts in the economy that has generated changes in agland usage away from cane production. As a result the State and UH became strong advocates of GMO technology. UH began a program to work on genetically engineered (GE)coffee, tobacco, papaya and taro. A commercially distributed GE papaya is now on the market.

Mr Venezuela has asked to see data on safety tests for crops developed in open field experiments and has received nothing. Hawaii has become the center for GMO experiments and it is not known what is being tested in open fields.

Worldwide GMO experiments have included attempts to bring arctic fish genes to tomatoes (to keep them safe in an frost) and putting spider genes in a goat (so it's milk will produce silk). No one knows what the effect of these "frankenstein" experiments will lead.

There are about 4500 test sites in Hawaii. Unknown tests are done in small plots, in secret locations. There are biopharmaceutical tests being done. It has been demonstrated that GMO papaya has contaminated crops throughout Hawaii (with the possible exception of Kauai).

Some countries, like Japan, do not accept GMO products. This will hurt Hawaiian agriculture. Labeling is needed for GMO products.

Mr Venezuela said that because of GMO's, less resources are being spent on organic and sustainable farming by the State of Hawaii.

We Don't Know the Effects of GMO's
by Dr. Lorrin Pang of the State Health Department, Maui
Mr Pang spoke as a private citizen, because the State Health Department has no official position on the health risks involved with GMO's. The big corporations that are doing GMO research are using technologies that involve blasting genetic material into living cells to see if there will be any effect. Dangerous and toxic effects are possible--this method is like crap-shoot.

As a result the GMO corporations are taking risks with our lives. They are creating living beings that can reproduce and mutate. If proved dangerous, a laboratory produced pharmaceutical, like Vioxx, can cease production and be recalled. The GMO experiment maybe impossible to recall once it escapes or mutates. It can affect other living organisms. It is alive.

With drugs, unless we know their effects and safety, we do not release them. An approved drug must be proven safe and effective.These precautionary principles of health science should be applied to GMO experimentation. We do not know the adverse effects of GMO's.

The FDA and other regulatory agencies are now depending on GMO and pharmaceutical company money to pay their scientists to get and interpret data. As a result they are caught in a conflict of interest. The precautionary principal should include conflict of interest.

Kanaka Maoli need to know about GMO's
by Le'a Malia Kaneke, lawyer with focus on native Hawaiian rights
The benefits of GMO experiments are for the big corporations, not the small Hawaiian farmer. GMO research technology involves using bacteria and virus as vectors (means of entry) to cellular genetics. This technology is imprecise and random. There may be direct toxicity of GMO's to other species.

Patents are now being extended to living organisms. This was not the intent of patent law. This misuse of patent law will hurt small farmers to enrich patent holders. In a way, the GMO technology can be seen as a kind of 21st century colonialism.

As part of that colonialism, the big corporations are doing "bio-prospecting". Bio-prospecting is the gathering of the traditional knowledge of local people for profit. There is currently bio-prospecting of kanaka maoli knowledge. Pharmaceutical companies are seeking repository if bio-diversity knowledge in Hawaii. As an example, Diversa Corporation has been given a deal to transfer their UH bio-technology information. Western intellectual property law may assert the right to own the knowledge our ancestors. This goes against the traditions of Hawaiian's not to "dry out the bones of their ancestors".

ProdiGene, HiBred, Syngenta, DOW and Monsanto are interested in several Hawaiian agricultural products for experimentation, that include taro, pineapple and sugarcane. Bio-Pharming is going on. There are experiments to see if corn can produce blood clotting agents.

Hawaii is a target of GMO experimentation for several reasons.

• Excellent soil
• Year round growing season
• favorable political environment (Lingle)
• isolation from the rest of the world

The Hawaiian community should realize that GMO business is colonialism and that Hawaii has become a GMO Sacrifice Zone.

The Theft of Life: Te Raweka Ira
by Cheryl Waerea-i-te-rangi Smith, a Maori anti-GMO activist
Ms Smith used Maori language, and paintings to illustrate her points. She began by saying the Maori term for GMO is "te raweka ira", which translates to "the theft of life". Resistance against the introduction of GMO experimentation in New Zealand has been a focus of the National Maori Organic Organization.

In New Zealand people are eating Genetically Enginered (GE) foods and do not know it. There is no labeling. It is a high priority of the government to develop bio-technology. There has been a concerted effort at co-optation of the Maori knowledge and their rights.

In tribal New Zealand a Maori inadvertently signed a release to allow human gene experiments in sheep to be conducted in Maori traditional areas. The New Zealand government does not consider cloned animals to be genetically modified.

There has also been a co-optation of Maori legends and lore to support GMO technology. For example, Maori have been told their prayers can make them safe from adverse affects of GMO experiments and that genes do not have traditional Maori "life force" and therefore are harmless.

The decision to move forward with GMO's should include a test

• for the sacredness of something ( tapu )
• of the life essence ( maori ) and whether it is damaged
• for the aspect of precedent
• for the aspect of principles ( mana )

Strategies for Change
The presentation ended with a call for future actions that included the need to protect our beautiful countries. There should be a moratorium on genetic engineering until it is proven safe.

We will need a grassroots effort to

• monitor the research
• get resolutions with local growers associations to be GMO free
• get land owners to deny GMO's on their property.
• get strict county and state regulations on GMO's
• pass law prohibiting bio-prospecting

for more information contact:
(GMO-Free Kauai) 808- 651-9603



There will be live music and pupus too!

SOURCE: JUDY DALTON 20 January 2005 - 1:30pm

GMO-Free Kaua`will make a presentation
about agricultural biotechnology in Hawaii on Tuesday, January 25th at 5:30pm at the War Memorial Convention Hall in Lihue. 

5:30 - 6:30 pupus and reception
6:30 - 8:00 Public presentation followed by Q&A

We encourage you to attend this up-coming community event. There will be pupus and live music from 5:30-6:30. Then the presentation will begin at 6:30.  The event is free and all members of the community are invited to attend.

A speaking tour of indigenous experts on this issue from Aotearoa/New Zealand, Hawaii, and the US mainland will be traveling throughout the state in the last week of January.  They will speak about GMOs and the hazards they pose to native cultural rights, the environment, public health, and traditional knowledge and culture.  They will also discuss avenues of resistance to agricultural biotechnology that have been effective in other parts of the world. 

Speakers at the event here on Kauai include Le`a Kanehe, a Native Hawaiian legal specialist, Dr. Hector Valenzuela, Tropical Crops Specialist at the University of Hawaii, and Dr. Cherryl Waerea-i-te-rangi Smith from Aotearoa/New Zealand, an expert on genetic engineering and its impact on indigenous people and traditional agriculture.

Hawaii is the home of more field trials of experimental genetically engineered crops than any other place on earth.  These crops are under-regulated, they have already contaminated conventional crops on the island, and adequate testing has not yet been done to determine the impact they will have on our public health or our fragile island environment.  Although these genetically modified organisms (or GMOs) are being tested in the open air here on Kauai, there is no public right to know where these crops are being grown.  As the world capitol of experimental genetic testing, it is important for the people of the islands to understand the impacts these crops could have on our communities.

For more information about genetic engineering in Hawaii and about the Indigenous Speaking Tour on Agricultural Biotechnology please visit or contact:
(the Hawaii Genetic Engineering Action Network),
(GMO-Free Kauai) 808- 651-9603