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Hawaii GMO Labeling Bill Advances– with Amendment

February 8, 2013 by Brett Wilkins in Food & Agriculture with 0 Comments
Anti-GMO protesters in Maui (Photo: Occupy Monsanto Maui)

Anti-GMO protesters in Maui (Photo: Occupy Monsanto Maui)

A legislative committee in Hawaii voted on Thursday to approve a measure requiring the labeling of genetically modified produce, but some anti-GMO advocates were disappointed by the insertion of an amendment exempting local producers from the labeling requirement.

The Associated Press reports that the House Committee on Agriculture approved HB 174, which states that:

The sale, offering for sale, or distribution of any imported genetically engineered produce intended for human consumption within the State is prohibited unless the fact of genetic engineering is disclosed clearly and conspicuously with a label bearing the words “genetically engineered” directly on the produce offered for retail sale, on the label of the produce’s packaging, or, in the case of any such produce that is not separately packaged or labeled, on a clear and conspicuous label appearing on the retail store shelf or bin in which the produce is displayed for sale.

Although the committee approved the bill, it did so with one major caveat– genetically modified food produced in Hawaii is not subject to the labeling requirement.

Occupy Monsanto Maui, an anti-GMO group, slammed the measure as “disemboweled.”

“HB174… was DISEMBOWELED in committee by an amendment that pertains only to incoming raw agricultural products, so it basically covers nothing, except a little crookneck squash, any Monsanto sweet corn brought fresh into the state, or if a non-browning GMO apple is approved,” the group said on its Facebook page.

Some opponents of the measure had argued that labeling genetically modified foods would drive up costs, an argument used successfully by Monsanto and other corporations in a $45 million ad blitz that led to the defeat of California’s Proposition 37 ballot initiative. But due to the local exemption amendment, House Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Jessica Wooley said the measure would actually benefit local farmers.

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