Natural Foods Merchandiser

GM coffee banned on Hawaii

Genetically modified coffee and taro are now banned on the island of Hawaii, thanks to a unanimous vote by the Hawaii County Council to override Mayor Harry Kim's veto of the bill. According to the Associated Press, many native Hawaiians and coffee farmers supported the ban, which was introduced last month by North Kona Councilman Angel Pilago. About 100 residents testified in regard to the ban, the vast majority opposing it, according to local media.

An overarching concern of Hawaiian residents was that Hawaii would lose off-island buyers if genetically modified coffee is grown in the area, for fear of contamination of the non-GM crop. While some researchers, farmers and business people opposed the ban, several reports expressed that a large majority of Hawaiian coffee farmers supported it. The council had passed the bill unanimously before Kim vetoed it.

A similar bill had been shelved by state lawmakers earlier this year, in favor of an order to study the science, benefits and dangers of genetically modified crops.

The Hawaii Coffee Association estimates that 6,500 acres of Hawaiian land grows coffee, producing between 6 million and 7 million pounds of green beans annually.

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