| LIHUE, Hawaii
LIHUE, Hawaii Dec 6 Critics of genetically
modified crops have introduced new measures to limit the spread
of biotech corn, soy and other crops on the Hawaiian island of
Maui, pushing back against companies that want to use the
tropical region as a testing ground.
Maui County Councilwoman Elle Cochran introduced a bill on
Friday that would require companies to disclose when they use
pesticides and genetically modified organisms (GMOs) on the
The bill is modeled after a measure approved on the island
of Kauai last month that controls the planting of biotech crops
and the use of pesticides by agrichemical companies.
The Kauai bill requires large agricultural companies to
disclose pesticides and GMOs, as well as establish buffer zones
around schools, homes and hospitals. Similarly, the Maui bill
targets companies that use more than five pounds or 15 gallons
of restricted use pesticides annually.
On Thursday, Hawaii Island Mayor Billy Kenoi signed into law
a measure that prohibits biotech companies from growing any new
genetically modified crops on the largest of the archipelago's
An exception to the new law is GMO papaya, which has been
genetically altered to resist disease and is now extensively
grown in Hawaii.
"Today our communities expect that government will be as
cautious as possible in protecting our food and water supplies,"
Kenoi said in a statement.
"This ordinance expresses the desires and demands of our
community for a safe, sustainable agricultural sector that can
help feed our people while keeping our precious island
productive and healthy."
The Hawaii law goes into effect immediately and includes
fines of $1,000 per day for noncompliance.
The measures in the Hawaiian islands are part of a larger
battle brewing in the United States and several other countries.
Biotech crop critics argue that genetically modified crops,
first introduced in 1996, lead to increased pesticide use,
environmental damage and health problems for people and animals.
The most popular biotech crops are corn and soybeans that
have been genetically altered to make the plants tolerant of
chemical herbicides and resist pest damage. Farmers say using
biotech crops improves production and makes fighting weeds
The biotech crop industry has been fighting back against
measures such as those in Hawaii and recent moves in other U.S.
states to require the labeling of food containing genetically
The companies assert that biotech crops are essential to
boost global food production and improve environmental
sustainability. They say the crops and the pesticides used on
them are used safely and are already well regulated by state and
The leading biotech crop companies include Monsanto Co
, DuPont, Syngenta AG and Dow
AgroSciences, a division of Dow Chemical Com.