BY DANNY DE GRACIA – By today’s decision to defer House Bill 174, the joint Hawaii Senate committees on Agriculture, Conmmerce and Consumer Protection and Health missed a critical opportunity to respond to a growing public concern about the direction of biotechnology and genetic modification.

While it is inevitable that market pressures and inflationary monetary demands over the last fifty years have caused an intensely competitive change in the way food is produced and sold to consumers, our understanding of genetics and the impact of biotechnology on humans and the environment in general is still nascent.

Biotechnology is becoming more and more prevalent in our daily lives and the public is right to be concerned about whether or not they are consuming food that is naturally grown or the result of genetic modification. When technology advances faster than the moral, spiritual and ecological considerations can fully be explored or argued, the potential for a future crisis of epic proportions is sown at our risk.

The public’s desire to see reasonable regulation in this area should have been honored by their elected legislators in the form of some kind of GMO labeling requirement. The Hawaii State Legislature should commit to finding ways this Session to address the need for GMO labeling while making efforts to minimize disruption to private commerce and local business.