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Sunday, December 15, 2013
Lack of Statewide policy threatens new Ag jobs
By Selected News Articles @ 11:56 PM :: 4220 Views :: GMOs

Lack of Statewide policy threatens new Ag jobs

From GoGoGMO December 12, 2013

In the heyday of sugar and pineapple, agriculture in Hawaii was recognized as one of the pillars of our state’s economy. In the seventies, eighties and nineties big ag died off, taking jobs, tax revenues and income with it.  But, now large-scale agriculture has begun to rebuild itself with ag giants Monsanta, Dow AgroSciences, BASF, Dupont Pioneer and Syngenta investing millions of dollars and employing hundreds in the GMO and seed crop industry. This rejuvenation of Hawaii’s agricultural capability has reversed the steady decline of the past thirty years and promises to be an important new part of Hawaii’s future economy. What’s needed now is a comprehensive and well-reasoned statewide policy to keep it from being strangled in the cradle.

Hawaii's seed crop industry has charted dramatic growth since it began.
Hawaii’s seed crop industry has charted dramatic growth since it began.

The lack of direction from the Governor and Legislature has placed the growing ag industry in peril as restrictions and interference are now coming in waves from local governmental jurisdictions.  Spurred on by activists, county governments are rushing to fill the void with poorly-thought-out and punitive new regulations.  Regulations that they are ill-equipped to enforce, and based on emotion-charged arguments and fear instead of good science.  The county councils seem more that willing to sacrifice the economic benefits of a long-term, sustainable new industry, new jobs and tax revenue in order to score the short-term political benefits by bowing to the protestors.

Kauai’s county council overrode Mayor Carvalho’s veto of Bill 2491 in November of this year.  The Mayor described the bill as “flawed” and unenforceable.  Hawaii Island (The Big Island) followed by passing Bill 113, an even more onerous GMO ban.  Maui county lawmakers are now joining in, and protesters have become increasingly active on Oahu.

Early legislation aims at labeling GMO’s, and public disclosures of pesticide use and notification of GMO crop plantings. But, the intent of the opponents is to drive the industry out of Hawaii altogether.

Anti-GMO protesters use scare tactics and misinformation to conscript followers and coerce elected officials.
Anti-GMO protesters use scare tactics and misinformation to conscript followers and coerce elected officials.

This “grassroots” political attack on GMO agricultural operations is manipulative and deceptive, and driven by a small group of agitators, and by most accounts, mainland special interest money. The future of agriculture in Hawaii is too important to be decided by mob rule and misinformation. It should certainly be tempered by factual information, and consider the better interests of the entire population of the state, not decided by hysteria-driven politics.

Where is the leadership at the state level we need to take charge of ag policy on a statewide basis?  

We need to determine what is in the best interests of the state as a whole before this new and promising industry is literally pecked apart by local jurisdictions and activist mobs.  The State should separate facts from fiction and institute reasonable controls over industrialized agriculture. People’s health should be safeguarded, pesticides regulated and transparency encouraged.  However, the businesses who are investing, and the people who are employed by these companies should also be protected from irresponsible and short-sighted opposition.

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