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