‘Battle Royale’ over Hawaii County’s anti-GMO Bill 113 throws dark cloud over farmers

Scientists are worried that their research will be negatively impacted if the Hawaii County Council approves Bill 113, which would ban any open-air experiments of GMO crops, writes Tom Callis in West Hawaii Today. Papaya and dairy farmers are also worried how Bill 113 would affect them, because both grow genetically modified crops.

Jon Entine, executive director of the Genetic Literacy Project, called the current fight on the Big Isle a “battle royale.”

“This will have a significant impact on how this debate proceeds over the next few years,” said Entine, a GMO advocate.

Bill 113, which is now being debated, proposes to ban new open-air uses of GMO crops , and it has put several agriculture groups on the defensive. Papaya farmers, who rely mostly on transgenic varieties to combat the ringspot virus, have been steadfast against it, citing impacts to the industry alhough they would be exempt from the ban. Big Island Dairy, which grows transgenic corn for feed, also would be exempted.

The dairy and papaya growers would both have to sign up for a GMO registry at a cost of $100 a year.

Michael Madamba, a papaya farmer, believes the bill unnecessarily gives a negative impression of transgenic papaya, and he is concerned about the future of the industry.

“If the bill passes, it will be hard for me to encourage my farmers to continue farming,” he said.

Read the full, original story here: “Chasm wide, deep in GMO debate as vote on bill nears”

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