In December, Billy Kenoi, the mayor of Hawaii’s Big Island, signed Bill 113, banning GMO crops on the island into law. The bill prohibits open air cultivation, propagation, development, or testing of plants and crops that have been genetically engineered. The island’s GMO papaya industry is exempt.
Many biotech companies, including Monsanto, Dow, Syngenta, BASF, and Pioneer, have been experimenting with seeds and GMO crops on Kauai, Oahu, Maui, and Molokai–Hawaii’s other islands–for years. However, they have never operated on the Big Island. Bill 113 now ensures that that will remain the case.
By signing the bill into law, Mayor Kenoi hopes to protect and preserve the island and its natural resources. He aims to support community-based farming and ranching instead of global agribusinesses through commitments, such as using 1,739 acres of county-owned land to launch the state’s largest agricultural park, supporting innovative training programs for new and future farmers, introducing and advancing more sustainable methods for growing crops and livestock, and launching a new baseline study to determine the island’s progress towards food self-sufficiency.
Mayor Kenoi stated that “our communities expect that government will be as cautious as possible in protecting our food and water supplies. We all want to minimize impacts to the environment while also producing abundant, affordable food for local consumption. This ordinance expresses the desires and demands of our community for a safe, sustainable agricultural sector that can help feed our people while keeping our precious island productive and healthy.”