A Plant Scientist’s perspective on bill 113

Today, the Hawai’i County Council will hear testimony concerning bill 113, which seeks to ban or limit most genetically engineered plants on the island. The bill is a successor to bill 79, which was withdrawn. While Kaua’i county debates the production of GMOs and the spraying of pesticides, the Big Island stands alone in debating a bill solely about genetically engineered crops. Bill 113 would ban the cultivation of genetically engineered plants in the open air, except for papayas and other crops that specific people or organizations have grown on a location in the past. For instance cattle farmers who grow genetically engineered corn would still be able to do so, while other farmers who haven’t been growing them yet across the street would be barred from adopting them. The bill also requires that everyone who grows them both in the open and in an enclosed space register with the


Analysis of Hawai’i County Bill 79

Previously, we took a look at Kaua’i County Bill #2491, and found many glaring problems. The hearing for that bill concluded with council members suggesting that there were problems with it, but that it would move forward and a new hearing was scheduled for July 31. In the comments section of our post discussing the bill, we found out that there was another Hawai’i county bill – Bill 79, which is a lot farther along in the political process. While not calling for Environmental Impact Statements, or public posting of field trial locations, this bill presented a whole host of other problems. In sum, it seeks to ban all genetically engineered crops and animals, except the current GMO papayas and any ornamental plants, while also adding numerous additional hurdles for existing crops and ongoing research. In addition, due to the wording of the bill, I discovered that it may in


Why did Proposition 37 Fail?

Originally published at Food Safety news. Additional links and images added for enhanced reader enrichment! On November 6, 2012, Californians voted on Proposition 37, which would have required that foods produced from genetically engineered crops be labeled as such. Support for Prop. 37 was high two months before the election, but it plummeted in the final month to a near tie. It was defeated 53 to 47 percent, and this reversal of public opinion about the proposition has led to many speculations about why it failed. Michele R. Simon, a lawyer and paid writer and spokesperson for the Yes on 37 campaign argued that it lost due to “Lies, Dirty Tricks, and $45 million,” pinning its defeat almost entirely on being outspent by industry using “propaganda and dirty tricks.” However, I believe she missed an opportunity to assess the mistakes committed by the Yes on 37 campaign, along with the

corn combine

Six More Reasons To Vote No On GM Labeling Initiative

(reposted from Science 2.0, 8/23/12) Previously, I wrote about why GMO labeling is basically illogical.  If you take the time to read the actual proposition, there are at least six more reasons that proposition 37 on the California ballot this fall is a really bad idea that voters should reject. 1.    This is asking for something that is a great deal harder than it sounds. Almost all GMO crops are commodity grains.  To understand what labeling these crop ingredients means means, think of a river.  When it rains, little rivulets of water begin to run off of the ground, and then combine into small creeks.  These combine to make streams that eventually combine to make a river. By the time the water is in the river, it is so mixed that you could never know which drop came from where.

Supreme Court decides on Alfalfa case

In what (for me) seemed like no time at all, the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) has issued its ruling on the Roundup Ready Alfalfa case. In a landslide 7:1 ruling (with one recusing), the high court has lifted the nationwide ban on planting genetically engineered herbicide-tolerant alfalfa. What does this mean for GE alfalfa and sugar beet plantings that have been affected by the courts? Although the social media chatter over the case was mostly characterizing it as crucial to win to “stop” GE alfalfa, it was really more about what the proper course of action is for the GE regulatory process, and whether a court can issue an injunction against planting GE crops while the environmental impact statement (EIS) is being drafted, without having to provide evidence of harm. For more background information, read my previous post about the case. In essence, the court was considering