Former City Council Member Tom Berg

Honolulu City Council Member Tom Berg has introduced bills to mandate labeling of GMO produce – Photo: Emily Metcalf

BY NOMI CARMONA – This year, Oahu will have a chance to unite with all the other Hawaiian islands in supporting the statewide mandatory labeling of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO’s) as the Hawaii State Association of Counties (HSAC) prepares it’s 2012 legislative package. On Tuesday, November 27th at 1 PM, the Honolulu City Council will be hearing GMO labeling resolutions in the Executive Matters and Legal Affairs Committee (EMLA). Committee Chair Councilman Breene Harimoto and newly elected EMLA Vice Chair Councilmember Joey Manahanwill lead the meeting. 

Two bills on GMO labeling from both Hawaii County and Maui County are up for adoption in the HSAC package this year which will be submitted to the Speaker of the House. The two resolutions are similar, one distinction in the Maui County submission requires at least 10 point font size notification. GMO labeling in Hawaii, if accepted by the State would amend Chapter 328, Hawaii Revised Statutes and begin January 1, 2014. Since the County of Maui did not approve the County of Hawaii proposed legislation, the focus will be on the Maui Countybill which still has the chance to pass all Counties and be accepted into the final HSAC package.

Last year the GMO labeling passed all island Councils unanimously except for Honolulu where it was denied in Committee but that may change this year. Thanks to the passage of then Councilmember Tulsi Gabbard’s Resolution 12-57, FD1 (7-2) urging the FDA to label GMO’s, we are now nearly all in agreement that Hawaii residents deserve the right to know if their food has been genetically altered. The agenda for the November 27th meeting will be posted six days prior to the meeting and registration for testimony can be found on the Honolulu City & County website.

If GMO labeling succeeds past the EMLA committee it will be heard for a final vote on December 5th at the next full City Council meeting.

Link to HSAC package info:

Submitted by Nomi Carmona, Executive Secretary for Councilmember Tom Berg