Vowing to protect natural resources and shut out the "global agribusiness corporations" from
But foes of the bill warned it would not only put the brakes on tens of millions of dollars worth of current GMO-related projects, but stop investment and growth of the island's agriculture industry.
"It's very disappointing," said
The bill the
Farmers who already grow GMO crops are exempt from the ban. That includes
"Our community has a deep connection and respect for our land, and we all understand we must protect our island and preserve our precious natural resources," Kenoi said in a statement Thursday afternoon. "With this new ordinance we are conveying that instead of global agribusiness corporations, we want to encourage and support community-based farming and ranching."
The vote represents another significant victory for the
On Thursday, Kohala Councilwoman
"The bill is modest," she said. "It holds the status quo. It allows farmers to continue to do what they are doing. It just doesn't allow more."
Wille said the ban on future GMO crops will prevent the Big Island from becoming another
"All I'm saying is there's science on both sides," she said. "Let's halt and take a closer look."
In approving the bill, Kenoi said his administration would launch a yearlong effort to research and collect data on the agriculture industry to shed further light on the GMO issue and its effect on the environment.
"We will work with our farmers and our ranchers to carefully monitor the impacts of this bill ... to separate speculation and guesswork from the facts," he said.
However, Farrell said the bill is almost entirely based on emotion, myths and a lack of scientific facts.
She said it could prevent orchid and antherium farmers from proceeding with a GMO project designed to fight a disease afflicting the ornamental flowers industry. It may also stop expansion of the livestock industry, which is working on a
The ultimate effect may be determined by how the county implements the law, Farrell said.
In any case, she said, the greatest impact could be to hinder investment by current farmers and potential new ones, giving a competitive advantage to agricultural concerns elsewhere.
Yoshida said the biggest problem with the law is that it's going to handicap what
"It's just disappointing that the farmers there are not going to have the access to the technology available to them," she said.
The vote followed six months of debate through many long public hearings and testimony from hundreds, most of whom spoke out against GMO farming.
Two other farming groups supported the bill: Hawaii Farmers Union United, whose focus is on family farms, and the
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