An open letter to friends and former colleagues in the Senate:

March 13, 2013

Aloha Friends and Former Senate Colleagues,

Good policy plus good politics – that elusive holy grail each of us who serve in public office seeks every day. What can we do that will make our communities better and that the people will love? What can we do that is meaningful, that is more than just grinding through the minutiae that is the sausage factory of lawmaking?

Being first in the nation to take a bold step on the important issue of food labeling is that win-win that is so hard to find in lawmaking.

Yes, 5 agrochemical companies will be disappointed. But, the sky will not fall, the industry will not collapse, the people will love you for it and it’s the right thing to do.

I write today to respectfully ask that you give positive consideration to hearing and ultimately passing into law HB174, thus allowing Hawaii residents the opportunity to make informed decisions about the foods they eat.

HB174, like so many Bills now in the pipeline, is acknowledged to be imperfect and a work in progress. As we all know however, the measure could be easily amended and made whole.

A majority of people clearly want an opportunity to choose. While the debate over health aspects of GMOs will no doubt continue, the fundamental question today is not whether transgenic foods are healthy or harmful, but whether people are entitled to make an informed choice.

The agrochemical companies are fond of saying that GMO foods are “nutritionally substantially equivalent”. Horse meat may very well be “nutritionally substantially equivalent” to beef, but I still don’t want to eat it.

Adding the letters GMO just ahead of MSG and Red Dye #3 will cost nothing.

63 countries around the world including all of Europe, Russia, China, Japan, Australia and New Zealand already require mandatory labeling of GMO products.

The grocery chain Whole Foods has just announced it’s requiring suppliers to label all GMO products by 2018.

Hawaii should do the same. Put the onus on the industry to label within reasonable parameters as have been done elsewhere. Set out a reasonably effective date that will allow the GMO foods now on the shelf to be eaten and replaced by those properly labeled.

Good policy and good politics; it’s a rare combination.

I encourage you to go for it 

Respectfully. Gh

Gary Hooser
State Senator (2002 – 2010)
Kauai County Council (present)
Chair Agriculture/Sustainability Committee

About garyhooser

This blog represents my thoughts as an individual person and does not represent the official position of any organization I may be affiliated with. I presently serve as volunteer President of the Hawaii Alliance for Progressive Action (H.A.P.A.) I am the former Vice-Chair of the Democratic Party of Hawaii. In another past life, I was an elected member of the Kauai County Council, a Hawaii State Senator, and Majority Leader, and the Director of Environmental Quality Control for the State of Hawaii - in an even earlier incarnation I was an entrepreneur and small business owner. Yes, I am one of the luckiest guys on the planet. Please visit my website AND sign up for my newsletter (unlike any email newsletter you have ever gotten, of that I am sure) - “Come to the edge.” “We can’t. We’re afraid.” “Come to the edge.” “We can’t. We will fall!” “Come to the edge.” And they came. And he pushed them. And they flew. - Christopher Logue (b.1926)
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8 Responses to An open letter to friends and former colleagues in the Senate:

  1. Great letter! I am not a Hawaiian but I support your cause 100% and hope the same happens here in Oregon where I live.

  2. Susan Stayton says:

    Thank you for saying so eloquently what many of us feel. Your voice adds the weight of a fellow lawmaker to those of your constituents.

  3. Scott Goold says:

    Much mahalo Gary ~
    We appreciate your leadership on this issue … we thank you for ALL your leadership. Food is the source of life. It is clear that issues of obesity and general health force us to be diligent about our eating behavior. To be a healthy society, we must be an educated and informed people.

    Yes, please continue your work to ensure we can educate and inform ourselves about the food we consume.

  4. Kathleen Sato says:

    Thank you for pushing this issue. When an industry wants to keep the public ignorant, you know they have something major to hide.

  5. Aloha Gary,

    Good points. Mahalo for weighing in. As you know, I’ve been introducing GMO labeling bills since 2008, when we served together in the Hawaii State Senate. Tomorrow at 9am the fate of GMO labeling in Hawaii for this legislative session will be deliberated on by a joint Agriculture/Consumer Protection/Health committees. You are absolutely right…it’s good policy and good politics to pass the bill, so the whole Senate can vote on it in 3rd reading. I’m hopeful….Best wishes to you and your ohana.

    Senator Mike Gabbard
    Energy/Environment Committee, Chair
    District 20, West Oahu

    • garyhooser says:

      Thank you Mike for taking the time to comment and for all your work on this and many other issues important to our State. It is unfortunate that a majority at the legislature just do not seem to get it…that consumers deserve a choice. A hui hou! gh

  6. Andy says:

    Having every food item imported to Hawaii make a special Hawaii label is not something that “will cost nothing”. Spam, Coca Cola, literally almost everything made has GMO products in it. Why not require non-GMO products label non-GMO? Seems more efficient and most non-GMO products are already doing it.

  7. garyhooser says:

    These companies…Coca Cola, Spam etc…are required to label in 63 other countries already. Coca Cola already has to label HI5 to cover our “bottle bill” recycling fee. Most soft drinks have multiple labeling requirements for various states and it has not driven up the cost. It is not unusual for different products to accommodate different State requirements.

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