Original bill draft overlooked practical challenges facing small farms

Image Representative Lauren Kealohilani Cheape made the following statement today regarding the House Committee on Agriculture’s passage of House Bill 174 requiring labeling of genetically modified food in Hawaii:

“Having grown up on a farm and now representing a largely agricultural district, my first priority is providing local food for local people,” said Rep. Cheape. “I believe that consumers have a right to know what is in their food, but for local agriculture to succeed long-term in Hawaii, the practical costs to Hawaii’s small farmers must also be considered.”

“I’m pleased with today’s amendments to require labeling on only imported genetically modified whole fruits and vegetables. The original bill would have placed a burden on local livestock farmers to determine the conditions under which animal feed and all other components produced prior to use by the local farmer were created. Assuring the absence of GMOs throughout the entire process would have cost time and resources that many farmers cannot afford,” she continued.

“There has been a loud cry from the community on this issue,” she said. “I feel it is our responsibility as lawmakers to listen and take a small step forward in providing Hawaii consumers the ability to receive more information about their food without hurting local farmers.”

Rep. Cheape’s great-grandfather started Peterson’s Upland Farm in 1910 that her family continues to own and operate. She represents District 45, which includes Schofield, Mokuleia, Waialua, Kunia, Waipio Acres and Mililani.

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