POSTED: 4 APRIL 2008 - 8:30am HST

A Kalo Bill SB 958 passes the house ag committee

image above: detail of taro by A Kekona for2008 Maui Taro Festival

by Jeri Di Pietro on 3 April 2008

Taro bill passed today in the ag committee with huge amendments. Tsuji insisted on 5 years instead of 10, and genetic research on other varieties could happen, also gmo taro (including Hawaiian varieties) produced from outside the state could be grown here with a federal permit, county bans would have no power.

It is not much protection from contamination or desecration. Some of our supporters on the committee, Reps. Berg, Hanohano and Meyer (all women) ended up voting "no" in protest, because they could not support the amendments.

The reps said we should go back to the drawing board. Others voted yes with reservations saying that the compromise is not wise. Biotech is claiming a fair compromise and protection of scientific research and academic freedom, newspapers are reporting taro farmers are not happy.

We want the protection of the original bill. OHA suggested one amendment in their testimony, they thought it should be a moratorium forever.
We really need new legislators.

It was expressed that Kauai Council and their resolution in support of SB 958 did not really count because there is so much "division".

This bill will now go to the House Floor, then back to the Senate for a possible Conference Committee.

Mahalo to all who where there, and all who put so much effort into this.

Legislatures Pass Bill Compromising Protection
on 3 April in The Molokai Dispatch

Over 6,000 names and letters were submitted in support Senate Bill 958.Honolulu, Hawaii- Senate Bill 958, 10-year halt to experimental research of genetically modified taro of all varieties, was watered down to a compromise despite farmers and Native Hawaiian’s hopes today at the Capitol. The Senate Agricultural Committee voted 9-3 on what they are calling a compromise bill: a 5-year moratorium on Hawaii varieties of taro only, despite receiving over 7,000 testimonies in support of the original bill.

Many Native Hawaiians and taro farmers stated today that they will continue to request a 10- year moratorium on GM research of all taro varieties. Genetic engineering modifies the genetic foundation of the plant by inserting genes from other unrelated organisms into the taro. Researchers at the University have been using the controversial technology to insert rice, wheat and grapevine genes into the taro despite public concerns around the cultural significance of taro as well as health and environmental effects of genetic engineering.

“We are the ones out in the field, and we don't want any GMO taro,” said Chris Kobayashi, Kauai taro farmer. “The fact is that all varieties of taro are important to us, and they have been known to cross pollinate or get mixed up when farmers trade plants. Why continue GMO research when we say no?”

Major pressure from Hawaiian leaders through large events prompted Senators to hear the controversial bill, including a rally on the opening day of the legislative session where over 500 protestors gathered demanding the bill be heard this legislative session.

Proponents of the bill have noted that the entire agricultural committee is up for re-election this year and many of the current committee-members’ opponents running are in vocal support of the bill of the original bill. The main arguments to end GE taro research include the cultural significance of the root crop as a sacred plant. According to many taro farmers in support of the bill GE technology is simply not needed, and money and research could be better spent on alternatives including organic growing and diversifying varieties of the crop.



POSTED: 30 MARCH 2008 - 5:30pm HST

Kauai Council backs Taro Bill SB 958

image above: pig on a taro farm from

Most residents back county resolutions for cultural reasons
by Nathan Eagle on 28 March 2008 in The Garden Island News

More than a dozen residents opposed to genetically modified taro hoisted the culturally important plant and flaunted "protect your roots" shirts behind farmers who testified before the Kaua'i County Council, yesterday, at the Historic County Building.

The council has proposed resolutions supporting three bills pending at the state Legislature that would impose a 10-year moratorium on developing or growing genetically engineered taro, create a taro security and purity task force and fund
statewide research on the apple snail, an invasive pest threatening the crop.

Supporters, representing the vast majority of speakers who addressed the council during the hours-long hearing, said messing with the genetic make-up of taro disrespects Native Hawaiians who consider the edible plant sacred. They also argued that a lack of information on the effects of genetically altered food, specifically taro, presents real risks to consumers.

Opponents claim genetic engineering research could produce disease-resistant taro, securing its future. They also said there is little chance of cross-contamination between varieties because of the nature of the species.

The council did not take action by press time. Testimony for the hearing, which started at 2:15 p.m., was still flowing hours later.

"Don't fool around with the taro," said John A'ana, a Westside farmer for the past 30 years, who held up a taro plant as he addressed council. "The bottom line is you need to show respect for the Hawaiian culture."

Wendell Rich, the site manager for Monsanto in Hanapepe, opposed the council resolutions but said that the multi-national biotechnology company and leading producer of genetically engineered seeds and herbicides has no plans to do anything with taro.

"The disease argument to me is a fear factor," Anahola resident Hale Mawae said. "GMO represents control and manipulation of our food crops. Do we give that to these corporate companies?"

A Maui County Council committee and the Big Island County Council have passed similar resolutions supporting the state's effort to temporarily ban work related to genetically modified taro.

Roy Oyama, representing the Kauai Farm Bureau, voiced opposition to a moratorium on testing genetically engineered taro.

"I don't care what you tell me, research is needed," he said, noting concerns over viral threats.

He acknowledged that the bureau did not poll its 360-plus members, saying the decision was based on a policy statement adopted at the group's annual state convention.

"Many of them don't know what's going on," he said, referring to local members. "Agriculture is burning in my heart. I want to see it progress and feed every one of you."

Senate Bill 958, which would impose the 10-year moratorium, was deferred after a seven-hour hearing March 19 before the House Agriculture Committee. An overwhelming majority of testimony delivered at the Capitol reportedly supported the resolution.

The House referred Senate Bill 2518, which would provide $500,000 in grant funding for taro research, to the Ways and Means Committee.

The House Finance Committee held a hearing yesterday at the Capitol on Senate Bill 2915, which would create the taro task force.

Taro and taro markets are in a state of decline, according to the state legislation. The threats that taro farming families and communities face in cultivating taro are numerous and growing.

Taro lands in Hawai'i represent less than 1 percent of all agricultural lands in cultivation in the state, yet it remains the most important traditional cultural crop in Hawai'i, the state legislation says.

"The way the issue has been handled is ripping the community apart," Kapa'a resident Adam Asquith said, supporting council's proposed resolutions.

County Council members Shaylene Iseri-Carvalho and Mel Rapozo authored the resolutions.

"This bill does not prohibit continued dialogue," Iseri-Carvalho said. "Why not be safe before we proceed?"



POSTED: 6 MARCH 2008 - 8:15am HST

Hearing for Taro Bill SB 958

image above: Participants in March 4th demonstration against GMO Taro at Lihue Airport

by Sis Naehu on 6 March 2008

There will be a hearing for billSB958 - the 10 Year Moratorium on Genetic Modification of Taro! This is joyous & hopeful news!

The hearing will be March 19th, in the morning- Kalo needs much solid support! If can, try to take off work and bear witness at this historic hearing..

He keiki aloha na mea kanu. Beloved children are the plants.

NOW is the time to express your concern and aloha for kalo in writing!

If you ono for poi, make it official and demand protections for kalo and the taro industry- which will be permanently impacted by the disrespectful & irresponsible dangers of GMO kalo.

We still have the hard work of convincing the politicians to PASS the bill without inappropriate changes, so please...


Thursday, MARCH 6! To show your support & mana'o to key politicians before the hearing is scheduled.

If you miss the March 6th deadline please submit testimony to us no later than March 15th. We will submit all testimony on time for the hearing at the Capitol on March 19th.

* Write your own testimony if can, personal testimony has much more importance when the politicians are reviewing all the letters. Or if way too busy, no worries, just use the sample letter provided BELOW. Be sure to include your name & contact information.

* Write testimony on professional/organization letterhead if can and attach to email as a PDF or doc.


* Forward this email on and encourage others to write testimony NOW!

You can also print out attached testimony form to pass out for people to write in their support. Completed forms can be mailed to:

KAHEA: The Hawaiian Environmental Alliance attn. KALO
PO Box 270112 Honolulu, HI 96827

When emailing your letter to please also CC as a letter to the editor of the newspapers that have not yet fairly nor accurately reported on this issue. Just copy these emails into the "CC" address line when you send us your letter:

To Organizations/Businesses/Non-Profits: Please submit your testimony with your letterhead. If you need further assistance or information for drafting or submitting testimony please contact us- we can help!

Please be aware of your rights: Non-profits ARE legally allowed to endorse legislation. Non-profits are NOT allowed to endorse political candidates or spend more than a certain percentage of budget on lobbying efforts. Submitting testimony on this legislation will NOT compromise your 501-c-3 status.

Contact KAHEA ( for more information.

Tell them to support SB958 for ALL Varieties of Taro in Hawaii!

In case some politicians try to weaken the purpose of the bill, please make it clear that: This bill must protect ALL varieties of kalo in Hawaii. Not only the Hawaiian varieties of kalo. Genetic modification of any variety of the taro plant species is a danger to the entire species and a danger to the purity of our Hawaiian varieties.

House Representatives Districts/phones/emails:

Senators Districts/phones/emails:

CONTACT for educational materials & speakers, to volunteer, or to make a tax deductible donation to this kaloroots movement.

Check for more information- the Haloa page is continually updated, and soon will feature inspiring examples of testimony from all over Hawaii!

You can also easily submit your testimony online at KAHEA's Testimony Table:

Please review for more information on GMOs in Hawaii.



Town, Zip Code:

10 Year Moratorium on the GMO Taro

Aloha Legislators,

We write to ask that you support the 10 year moratorium on all forms of genetic modification and patenting of the taro (kalo) plant species. For 1200 years farmers in Hawai'i have cared for and protected the most varieties of taro on the planet. In Hawai'i taro is the plant of the people- it is our living culture and ancient history, native nutrition and ecological tradition. Taro provides a beloved and unique hypo-allergenic food, medicine, sustainable agriculture and industry for Hawaii. Genetically modifying any variety of taro is culturally disrespectful and also poses irreversible and irresponsible dangers to our food, health, environment and economy.

I support sustainable farming & precautionary scientific research that does not expose the taro species to the disrespect and risks of genetic engineering. I ask that the legislators actively support farmers/scientists in publicly accepted and safely advanced methods of protecting taro from land & water issues and invasive pests & diseases.

Taro is an incomparably sacred and valuable part of our island community. We join mahi'ai (farmers) of Hawai'i in calling on you and your fellow legislators to protect all of us and Hawaii's unique culture and resources by passing a law to provide a 10 year moratorium on the genetic modification and patenting of all varieties of the taro plant species.

Malama Haloa! Malama Pono,
Hawai`i SEED/GMO-Free Maui


image above: Participants in March 4th demonstration against GMO Taro at Lihue Airport



POSTED: 4 MARCH 2008 - 8:30am HST

March Forth for Taro on March 4th

by Jeri DePietro on 3 March 2008 for GMO Free Kauai

GMO Free Taro Demonstration
Lihue Airport Gateway (northside)
4:00pm-6:00pm Tuesday March 3rd, 2008

Help protect farmers rights to grow pure taro, protect traditional varieties.

Here is a reminder of the sign waving festivities for Tuesday March 4th at the airport gateway from 4pm to 6pm. Park well off the road on north side Ahukini, about 300 yards or so past the corner. We will we stay back safely off the road. If you have a drum or instrument, please bring it.

We have some signs, make some more- variety would make it more interesting.

Some slogans are:

"Save Haloa!"
"Sacred Genealogy"
"Haloa is Ohana"
"No GMO Kalo"
"Support SB 958"
"Moratorium on GMO Taro"
"Malama Haloa"
"Stop Biotech's mana mahele"
"Protect your roots from Genetic Engineering"
"No GE Taro"
"No wheat rice and grapevine in our taro"

Draw taro leaves on the posters and hearts and triangles.

See article below to see how to testify at SB 958, Protect Taro,

It is up to us to malama haloa so that haloa can malama us! IMUA!

Malama Haloa,
Jeri, GMO Free Kauai



POSTED: 26 FEBRUARY 2008 - 11:00am HST

Testify to County Council: NO GMO Taro!

video above: by Koohan Pauk covering week of GMO Free Demonstrations
Direct link

forwarded by Jeri DiPietro on 25 February 2008

The County Council of Kauai Resolution 2008-04, which supports (Senate Bill) SB 958, SD1, HD1 which imposes a 10 year moratorium on developing, testing, propagating, cultivating, growing, and raising of genetically modified taro in the state of Hawaii is on the agenda on Wednesday, February 27, 2008. The meeting begins at 9am. They may defer it to Wednesday, March 12. We need as many testimonies as is possible to support SB 958. We also need just as many to testify in person. You need not be a farmer. Consumers have a right to choice, too. You need only state the reasons why you feel taro should not be Genetically Engineered.

You don't have to write anything elaborate, but you can. Even just 1 or 2 lines will do. Main thing, it is from the heart.
Please use your letterhead if you have one.

Testimonies may be emailed to

Please cc testimonies to
Shaylene Iseri-Carvalho at
Mel Rapozo at

and please cc Chris at
If you need more info, call Chris at 826-7836

Be sure to put in the Subject of your email:
"Testimony Supporting Resolution 2008-04
HI SB 958 - A 10 year moratorium on GMO Kalo"

It may be humbling and challenging to explain why kalo is so important to Hawaii. But we must bear witness to the many virtues of this sacred plant. Silence is only for the plants to hold, our human kuleana is to speak out on their behalf.

The kalo plant has an importance unlike any other plant to our islands and way of life in Hawaii. We have the kuleana (responsibility) to protect the plants that take care of us! Genetically modifying kalo has unknown high risks, potentially permanent consequences to the kalo plant species, human health and our unique island culture & environment.

Danger! GM Kalo will not solve the kalo shortage on the islands! GM Kalo will not stop all viruses from harming kalo, and it may create even bigger long term threats & stresses on the kalo industry. There is no complete research of GMOs to understand what long term threats to human health may come from eating genetically modified kalo. GM Kalo may destroy the valuable hypoallergenic properties of pure kalo.

It is too early to know the long term and permanent effects of GMOs on our environment. Corporately owned food technology is increasing and people are becoming LESS healthy. Food science shows over and over that traditional diets are best. World over, our food sources and diets are being genetically modified, patented, processed, and removed from the people. It's time to say, "Stop! Wait! Watch Out!" ????



POSTED: 26 JFEBRUARY 2008 -  11:00am HST

Ag Chairman Tsugi Blocks Taro Hearing
Chair Clift Tsugi of the House Agriculture Committee has balked at setting a hearing for SB 958 HD1, a bill that would create a moratorium on the genetic manipulation of Taro. The bill, which originated in the Senate swept through that body with considerable support but Tsugi has chosen to sit on it.

One would have to assume that heavy pressure is being put on Tsugi by the powerful pro-GMO lobby many of whom are trying to establish open field testing of near Hilo in Tsugi's home district. The bill has strong support from native Hawaiians and independent family farmers from throughout the state.
SB 958 HD1 deserves to be heard.

A bill with as much public interest as SB958 HD1 needs to be heard publicly no matter which side of the issue one is on.

Please contact Rep. Tsugi today and request that Tsugi support the democratic process and scedule a hearing for SB 958HD1!!

Come on Clift, do the right thing!

Representative Clift Tsuji
phone 808-586-8480; fax 808-586-8484



POSTED: 10 JANUARY 2008 - 8:00am HST

Save Haloa - No GMO Taro! Week full of Haloa Events!

image above: "Haloa I (Taro Baby)" by Maggie T. Sutrov, Sutrov Gallery, Pa'ia, Maui

by Jeri DiPietro on 9 January 2008

Please help spread the word to your email friends - Camp with us at Iolani Palace
January 14th-17th. Join mahi'ai (farmers) from all over Hawai'i Nei as we step out of the mauka mud and onto the Capitol concrete to support a law that will PROTECT KALO from Genetic Modification & Patenting!

Na Kahu O Haloa -an open group in support of Kalo & Hawaii's traditional farmers-
needs your help to make 2008 the year of the Haloa Law!

The traditional farmers of Hawai'i need your support to protect kalo (known in english as taro)- the traditional food of Hawai'i - from genetic modification and patenting. Hawaiians have successfully bred and farmed many varieties of kalo for thousands of years WITHOUT genetic modification OR patents. Species diversity and access to clean water is what is needed for free-to-grow, sustainable agriculture that can feed our islands. Genetically modified kalo can cross-pollinate with native kalo varieties with unknown longterm effects to the species, native ecosystems, human health, and our local farms and agriculture businesses. These impacts may be irreversibly permanent!

Hawai'i's kalo farmers are calling upon the State government to ENACT A LAW during this legislative session that would put an end to genetic modification and patenting of kalo. Kalo farmers need big support from all family, friends & food lovers to clearly demonstrate this pono purpose at the State Capitol.

SUPPORT Bills SB958 (Senate) & HB704 (House)! These bills call for a 10 year moratorium on all testing, propagating, cultivating, growing and raising genetically engineered taro. Passage of these bills will ensure the safety and perpetuation of our native kalo, the first important step towards a BAN on GMO threats to native kalo! This pono cause needs your support!

Please take action today!
Get active! A week of events is planned for Jan. 14-17th, the opening of the 2008 Legislative Session! Pound poi, meet brilliant kupuna, pono science educators, island food-growers, and beautiful people with muddy toes!!

A detailed schedule of Save Haloa events are provided below. You can volunteer and/or donate to support "Save Haloa" Events, January 14th-17th by contacting: (please list your phone number, available times & any special skills)

Forward this email, please spread this good news! Bring your friends and family! Carpool!

People from everywhere (not just Hawaii!) can both: Stand up!

Be heard! Submit your testimony to the legislators visit

Or, if you are on Oahu visit the "Testimony Table" at January 14th-17th Save Haloa events at 'Iolani Palace & the State Capitol.

The Mission is to Save Haloa the Kalo from Genetic Modification & Patenting
The Method is Pono & Peaceful!


The Warriors Speak
WHERE: Kamakakuokalani Center for Hawaiian Studies at UH-Manoa

• 7:00pm- Winona LaDuke, Louie Hena, Paula Garcia, and Andrea Hanks to speak about their experiences and struggles in perpetuating food soverignty, restoring food systems, and protecting indigenous cultures and food from genetic engineering. Click here to download the flyer. Visit for more info).

Gather all 'Ohana
WHERE: at 'Iolani Palace

• 11:00am- 'Iolani Palace- Pule, set-up Kalo Camp
Kalo plants arrive, T-shirt & sign making-Bring blank BLACK t-shirt to be printed!

• 1:00pm- Press Conference (tentative)

• 5:00pm - 'Onipa'a Na Hui Kalo OPEN meeting -IMPORTANT- briefing on goals and the next days events.

• 6:30pm - Potluck Dinner, bring a dish!

• 7:00pm - Guest Speakers (Winona LaDuke, farmers, community organizers)
Viewing of films: "Islands at Risk" & "The Future of Food"
Continue preparation for next day, t-shirt & sign making.
and of course... Ho'o kani pila, wala'au, lomilomi!

• Overnight camping at 'Iolani Palace

Show Solid Support
WHERE: 'Iolani Palace & State Capitol

• 7:30am - Gather at 'Iolani Palace (if too early for you come camp over night!)
Pule, light breakfast, briefing, keiki from schools arrive.

• 9:00am - Procession from 'Iolani Palace to State Capitol, rally at Capitol

• 10:00am - Legislative Session Starts

• 10:30am - 'Iolani Palace- Opening of HALOA Session:
Na Kahu o Haloa returns to 'Iolani Palace to talk story and gather the 'ohana:
Information available about GMO issues, other Hawaiian issues, testimony table, info on where to visit reps and senators, public education about GMO, street stompers pass out fliers and gather testimony and petition signatures in downtown Honolulu.
Kalo Activities- ku'i 'ai kalo (traditional poi pounding)!

• 12noon- State Capito l- Visit Legislators' Offices...VISIT YOUR REPS/SENATORS and let them know you are from their district and you don't want GMO! Anti-GMO information will be handed out to public in lines to legislator offices.

• 6:00pm - 'Iolani Palace- Pule, Dinner... wala'au, ho'o kani pila!

• Overnight camping at 'Iolani Palace

Present Pono Purpose
WHERE: 'Iolani Palace & State Capitol

• 8:00am- Pule, Breakfast

• 9:00-11:00am - 'Iolani Palace - Pule, briefing, keiki from schools arrive to prepare for presentation of Kalo

• 12noon- State Capitol Rotunda - Procession from 'Iolani Palace to State Capitol
Formal Presentation of Kalo to Legislators, protocol by keiki & kupuna of Na Kahu o Haloa

• 1:30pm - State Capitol, Rm. 309 - Kalo farmers & supporters will brief legislators on their stance against genetic modification & patenting of kalo and explain the importance of hearing & passing bills SB958 & HB704 to protect kalo. Led by Chris Kobayashi, a farmer from Kaua'i.

• 4:00pm - State Capitol, Rm. 229 - "Public Advocacy 101" A Training in the Legislative Process for Citizens, by Senator Gary Hooser (D-Kauai). How we can make a difference!

We will need to monitor these bills and be there to support when needed throughout the legislative session, until we know our bills have been HEARD and PASSED!

What you should know about Genetic Modification of Kalo:
Danger! Genetically modified kalo can cross-pollinate with native kalo varieties and the unknown and potentially dangerous effects to the species, our environment and our local agriculture business and economy can be irreversibly permanent! There is no complete research to understand what long term threats to human health may come from eating genetically modified kalo. Genetic modification is an imprecise and short-sighted attempt at a solution to stresses that Hawaiian kalo agriculture faces when clean abundant water is no longer made available to farms. Hawaiians have been successfully breeding and farming many varieties of kalo for thousands of years- time & experience have proven that species diversity & access to clean water is what is needed for a sustainable agriculture industry that can feed our islands.

Genetic modification of kalo is culturally disrespectful. Genetically modifying and patenting kalo is culturally inappropriate because kalo is both a fundamental and also sacred food source to Hawaiians, who understand that their shared ancestry began with Haloa the Kalo. Haloa the Kalo was the first kalo plant born from the ancient gods and became food for his younger brother, Haloa the Human- child of the same gods and the first human ancestor of Hawaiians. Haloa the Human was given the kuleana (responsibility) to take care of his older brother, Haloa the Kalo, who would in turn provide food for all humans. It must be understood: Kalo is not only a staple food source for people in Hawai'i, Kalo is also a member of our family, Kalo is our Kupuna!

Who "owns" the right to grow kalo? Patents associated with GM kalo create false ownership rights of what is now a free-to-grow traditional food source. The right to freely grow kalo should never be a commodity. Corporately owned food technology is increasing and people of developed countries are becoming LESS healthy. Food science shows over and over that traditional diets are best. World over, our food sources and diets are being patented, processed, and removed from the people. It's time to say, "Stop!"

Bad science, unclear future. Genetic modification (GM, or GMO-Genetically Modified Organism) means altering species through the transfer of genes, regulatory sequences, or nucleic acid by the use of gene vectors or laboratory manipulations, also called "recombinant DNA technology." Genetic modification is still considered a crude & inaccurate science and it is too early to know the long term and permanent effects of such experimentation on the environment and human health. Despite heavy pressure from the USA, Genetically Modified food is widely rejected in Japan & Europe, where many areas have made GMOs illegal as they have come to understand the environmental & economic threats that GMOs pose to traditional foods & agricultural sustainability, as well as human health. Our university and our government must stop the research and development of GMO food that is rejected by other scientifically advanced nations!

We must make it clear that we want appropriate agricultural research & pono policy that sustains healthy islands, culture, as well as productive participation in the international agricultural community. We need our government to review and pass bills SB958 & HB704!

NO Genetic Modification of Kalo!
NO Patents on Kalo!
YES, Enact Haloa Law to Protect Kalo, forever!

Please learn more, check the "Haloa Law" page:

for more see:
Island Breath: Is the enemy of taro desease 3/20/08
Island Breath: Kalo - The staple Food
Island Breath: Taro reseach protested 8/15/07
Island Breath: The Kalo Crisis on Kauai 8/3/05
Island Breath: Backyard Taro Growing 5/24/05