Archive for the ‘gmo’ Category

On Tuesday night, at Church of the Crossroads, organizers held a first organizational meeting towards forming a islands-wide Food Policy Council.

What is a Food Policy Council?
Food Policy Councils (FPCs) bring together individuals and community members from diverse food-related sectors to examine how the food system is operating and to develop recommendations on how to improve it. FPCs may take many forms, but are typically either commissioned by state or local government, or predominately a grassroots effort. Food policy councils have been successful at educating officials and the public, shaping public policy, improving coordination between existing programs, and starting new programs. Examples include mapping and publicizing local food resources; creating new transit routes to connect underserved areas with full-service grocery stores; persuading government agencies to purchase from local farmers; and organizing community gardens and farmers’ markets.

While FPC’s are not a new concept, their structures, practices, and policies are still evolving. Although the first Food Policy Council started 30 years ago in the city of Tennessee, only in the last decade have Food Policy Councils really gained momentum, and today there are over 100 councils in the United States (see a full list).

From Denise on O`ahu:
If you are concerned about Hawai’i food security, local decision-making and control, school lunches, farming, farm land, nutrition, or land use get involved with  FPC.

The first meeting was very well attended.  George Kent and Stuart Novick are the main organizers.  Very inclusive, consensus style, this is just the beginning.

The suggested purpose is to ‘ensure good nutrition for all, under all conditions.’  Important to include everyone that wants to participate and publicize what is already going on and co-ordinate everyone’s efforts.  Local/area FPCs in Hawai’i will/are already being developed.

If you want to stay informed and/or participate in a Working Group contact:  fpchawaii@yahoo.com. There are several opportunities (you can join more than one group):


ORGANIZATION WORKING GROUP. The OWG will develop an FPC charter and rules, including membership procedures, decision making, organizational structure, financial structure, and leadership.

COMMUNICATIONS WORKING GROUP.  The CWG is responsible for internal FPC communications and also external communications to and from others. It will establish an Internet-based communications system to support the work of the FPC, and provide technical assistance to those who need it.

HEALTH AND NUTRITION WORKING GROUP. The HNWG will focus on ways in which Hawaii’s food system affects the health of its people, including those who are most vulnerable to malnutrition.  Special attention will be given to infants, preschoolers, school children, prisoners, the homeless, people with disabilities, people with low income, and the elderly.  It would also give attention to specific nutrition related concerns such as overweight and obesity and non-communicable diseases such as diabetes, cancer, and heart disease.

FOOD SYSTEM WORKING GROUP.  The FSWG will describe, assess, and propose improvement in the food system in Hawaii, including the potential for strengthening local farming and gardening. They will promote contingency planning to ensure Hawaii’s resilience in the face of uncertainties regarding rapid onset crises such as tsunamis, electrical power failures, and failure of the water supply system, and slower-onset crises such as failures in the global, national, and local economy; climate change; and energy shortfalls.

COMMUNITY FPC WORKING GROUP.  The CFPC-WG will assist and support community FPCs in all islands with research, data, communications and planning.

GOVERNMENT RELATIONS WORKING GROUP The GRWG will determine what agencies are involved with FPC related concerns, what they are doing and plan to do, what legislation is being proposed, and whether new legislation is necessary to achieve the FPC’s aims.

The Communications Working Group is your link for support.  If you have questions, ideas, or problems to discuss, email :  fpchawaii@yahoo.com


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GE Salmon

They came for our taro. Is it any surprise that fish is next on the list? Today, federal officials in the U.S. are considering approval of the first genetically modified fish. GMO-salmon. Ick.

Salmon are sacred. It’s time to show our solidarity for indigenous peoples, first nations, and fishing and nearshore communities the world over. We’re a fish and poi culture, and we’ve got to be concerned about genetic modification of native species. Genetic modification is a part of a broken industrial food system that just doesn’t work. It isn’t serving communities, farmers, fishers, or consumers. We want sovereignty… over what’s on our plates. And we’re saying no to untested, unlabeled GMO foods.

From our friends at Food and Water Watch:

Franken-Fish have won the race to be the first genetically engineered animal approved for human consumption. The aquaculture industry has genetically engineered a fish that grows at twice the normal rate, so they can get it to market sooner and make more money.

The scary thing is, the FDA doesn’t do its own testing of genetically engineered animals, it relies on information provided by the company that wants approval. And because GE salmon are being considered as a new animal drug, the process isn’t focused on what happens to people who eat genetically engineered animals. So on top of the health concerns posed by raising salmon in crowded factory fish farms that rely on antibiotics and other chemicals, the FDA could be adding the unknown risks of GE salmon to the mix.

The FDA is the same agency that’s in charge of overseeing the egg industry, and we see how well they’ve done that job. The FDA does not have the capacity to ensure the safety of food that is not genetically engineered, they certainly should not be in charge of allowing the first GE animal into our food supply.

We’ve got just 12 days until the FDA takes formal steps to approve GE salmon, so it’s up to us to demand that President Obama direct the FDA to reject this request.

Take action to stop this mutant fish from reaching your plate:

(Illustration at top is by the talented Glenn Jones at threadless.com. His GE Salmon shirt is now sold out!)

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From Shelley:

Two weeks ago I attended a Food Sovereignty Conference in Waimanalo.  I was a little bummed because I was on the planning committee, working on behind the scenes stuff, but in retrospect I can’t complain!  Went to some awesome workshops and met some incredible people.

The first day was devoted to the Youth Delegation to learn more about the concept of Food Sovereignty and about the leadership qualities it will take to turn Hawai`i’s food dependency around.

The next day was open to the general public and after an opening plenary we embarked on huaka`i (field trips) to various farms and other food systems in the area.  The sites were UH SOFT Garden, Mala Laulima, Olomana Gardens, Aina Aloha o na Limahana and an on-site Aquaponics demonstration.  That was a HOT day, I got burnt.  I went to Mala Laulima, an organic garden behind Waimanalo Elementary School.

The last and final day was full of workshops to attend.  I attended `Ai Pono, Local Pollinators, and Native Limu.  It was awesome.  `Ai Pono was Uncle Herbert Hoe and his daughter Aunty Tammy.  They are working hard to incorporate fresh and traditional foods into school lunches!  This past year they only served at Hakipu’u Learning Center (a charter school run by their family), but next year they are expanding to 7 schools!  Exciting! 🙂 They said the kids get mountain apple in their fruit salad–so lucky! They use `ulu from their yard, and are able to buy produce from nearby farmer’s (they’re from Waiahole).  Aunty’s message: “It CAN be done!” 🙂 So inspiring.

The session on Local Pollinators was so awesome!  They brought different kinds of honey for us to try–so ‘ono, as well as a display bee colony.  Did you know that Princess Bernice Pauahi Bishop was the first one to introduce honeybees to Hawai`i?  We learned all about how different kinds of bees pollinate different kinds of plants.  Here’s one of the coolest images they used.  The top is a cucumber that had been “visited” (supposed to be by a bee, but this might have been hand pollinated) only a few times, next to one that was “visited” many times.  Night and day!

the power of pollination!

Bees are so important!  I learned of a new deleterious effect of pesticides and herbicides–they can kill bees!  The presenters were saying that bee folks think that this is a contributing factor to the decline in wild bee populations.  Another reason to go organic! 🙂 The other cool thing I learned was that we have native honeybees!

The bummer thing is that the other day I saw this article about how they are being considered for federal protection because they’ve become extremely rare. They are endemic, not found anywhere else in the world! The article said that they may be getting pushed out by honeybees, but the presenters said that studies in Brazil said that honeybees are not known to be invasive, but instead pollinated enough plants so that native bees continued to have habitat and food.  Not sure which one is the case in Hawai`’i.

The last workshop I went to was on Native Limu–wow, so much knowledge!  Uncle Henry Chang-Wo shared about how he can look at the limu on the shoreline to tell what kind of fish are present in the area–because certain fish only eat certain limu.  Wow!  He also shared about how some kinds of limu can only grow in areas where there is fresh, clean water outflow–if you see that one on the shore you know that the watershed of the area is somewhat still intact. He explained that limu was to Hawaiians what herbs and spices are to other cultures.  I could go on and on, but really, if you ever get a chance to meet Uncle Henry, be ready to learn!

Mahalo to all the presenters, hosts, and participants–see you all next year! 🙂

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Will anti-technology hippies embrace videos on the internets?

The ground-breaking documentary “The Future of Food” is now up on hulu.com, and the reviews from commenters are pretty hilarious. Apparently rooting FOR public-interest journalism and advocating sane regulation of genetically engineered foods makes you an “anti-technology hippie.” If that’s true, we’ll wear the badge with pride. If you haven’t already seen this film, or want to learn more about the controversy surrounding GE food and regulation, check out the film here:http://www.hulu.com/watch/67878/the-future-of-food

(Word to the wise: It IS sponsored, so you have watch about six commercials throughout the 1 1/2 hour film)

The Future of Food documents the disturbing truth behind engineered foods that have quietly filled U.S. grocery store shelves for the past decade. More about the film here: http://www.thefutureoffood.com/.

You can learn more about GE food in Hawaii at our website, or from our friends at Hawaii SEED at www.hawaiiseed.org.

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Ho’omaika’i! Maui GMO Ban wins passage, 9-0 at final reading today!

Thanks to the persistent and reasoned call from the public — people like you — in support of protecting Hawaii’s beloved taro Maui’s county council members found it easy to make the right decision. Mahalo nunui for standing up to be heard.

From our friends on Maui:

By now I know many of you have heard the good news, but for those who haven’t – Maui County is now gmo taro free! The ban passed 9-0 in its Second and Final Reading today, repeating its First Reading vote but this time without hesitation from any council members. The Mayor has said she will sign the bill into law. Unprecedented support from all!

Mahalo to the all the people who came to town today to testify and all those who wrote, emailed or called in, in support of Bill 82 (2009). Mahalo to Hawaii-Seed for being willing to take on the monitoring, Hector and Caren for coming from Oahu and Kauai to testify on HS’s expertise and the protocols for monitoring the kalo; and Walter for coming from Molokai!


Here is an excerpt of the article published in the Maui News:

Council approves ban on GMO taro
By MELISSA TANJI, Staff Writer
Maui News October 3, 2009

WAILUKU – A bill prohibiting genetically modified taro in Maui County received final approval Friday by the Maui County Council.

The taro bill prohibits anyone from testing, propagating, growing or introducing genetically engineered or modified taro, or kalo, within Maui County. Council members voted 9-0 to approve the ban, saying they believed taro’s cultural and spiritual significance to Native Hawaiians was more important than any other factor.

Mayor Charmaine Tavares said after the vote that she would support the ban.

“I will be signing the bill into law and recognize that the passage of this new law will send a message of support for state Representative Mele Carroll’s efforts to introduce and pass a bill at the state Legislature,” she said in an e-mailed statement.

“The input from various stakeholders that I’ve received has been valuable,” Tavares said. “I am told that this important law will bring us closer to protection of kalo on a statewide level. I support the intent of the bill and the protection of Hawaiian kalo, which deserves our respect and acknowledgment for its ancestral ties to Native Hawaiians, our host culture.”

Tavares previously had expressed doubts about the bill, saying it might be difficult to enforce.

Council Member Sol Kaho’ohalahala said after the vote that he appreciated everyone’s support on the bill and asked that council members continue to improve the language of the bill.

Council Member Bill Medeiros thanked people who had testified or sent e-mails in support of the bill he introduced.

Around 15 people Friday morning made it clear they were testifying in support of the ban on genetically modified taro. Supporters of the ban have argued passionately that taro is a sacred plant and staple food for Native Hawaiians and should be kept in its natural form. They feared that even if limited use or research were allowed, genetically modified forms of taro could mingle with other strains being cultivated.

Caren Diamond of Hawaii Seed – a nonprofit coalition of grass-roots groups composed of farmers, doctors, scientists, lawyers, concerned citizens and Native Hawaiians opposing the use of genetic modification – said taro was vital to Hawaiian culture.

“You have an opportunity to protect this living culture,” she said.

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On September 18, the bill to ban genetically modified taro unanimously passed First Reading in Maui County. Congratulations, Maui!!  Second and Final reading on this extremely important bill will be coming up this Friday, October 2nd.

From friends on Maui:

Ban on GMO Taro for Maui County–we’re almost there! Take part in this historic action and express your support!

If you have a chance, take a few minutes to call and talk to Council members Baisa (270-7939), Pontanilla (270-5501) and Molina (270-5507) before Friday.  Thank them for their yes vote and urge them to do so again.

Also let Victorino (270-7760), Mateo (270-7678), Kaho’ohalahala (270-7768), Johnson (270-5504), Nishiki (270-7108, and Medeiros (270-7246) know we are behind them and to keep the bill strong — no compromises.

The enforcement issue is one that can be resolved.  There are no excuses for this not to pass.  No changes between the last reading and this one will mean it is straight up, easy vote.  Keep it simple and sweet.  Let’s see a 9-0 vote again!

Testimony can be sent in by email (county.clerk@mauicounty.us) or come and join us in person.  If you can’t make it to the hearing, keep support for the kalo in your sights this week.  If you don’t want to speak – bring a kalo plant to show support.  Stay focused on what is important – protecting Hāloa.

Keep envisioning this bill passed without changes – for all kalo and effective immediately!

From us guys at KAHEA: Mahalo pumehana to the Maui community for all their good, hard work and their passion and care for Hāloa. There is no question that you are making a tremendous difference. We urge all who are about Hawai’i and who love their poi (!) to show their support by sending in testimony to the hearing on Friday! Please take a second also to forward this alert to friends and ‘ohana!

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From friends on Maui:

Today (September 18) was an exciting day at the County Council hearing.  The GMO taro ban bill passed First Reading 9-0!!!!

Big mahalo to Council members Bill Medeiros who introduced the bill and Jo Anne Johnson and Sol Kaho’ohalahala who also championed the bill, along with Wayne Nishiki.  We also got a full yes from Mike Victorino, and Danny Mateo.  Gladys Baisa voted yes, with reservations.  Mike Molina voted yes without reservations, but suggested the bill have an effective date of 2011 “to give the state time to decide” (we know where that is headed).  Pontanilla followed Molina with a yes vote and voiced concerns with costs to the county.

The best quote of the day:  “We have a duty to protect Hawaiians and that starts right here, right now”  – Chair Danny Matteo, right before the vote call.

Mahalo to everyone for the powerful and articulate testimony (extra mahalos to those who came from far!), to those who came to show force and for the voices of the kupuna that reverberated in the chamber today.  It was chicken skin!   The message is sent.

To those who were with us in spirit from every island and the mainland, mahalo for your support.  All of your positive intentions for protecting Hāloa from so many avenues have been realized.

From us at KAHEA, here’s what’s next up:

Final Reading! We expect Molina will lead the way in trying to modify the bill since he has come out on the side of the biotech industry and its staunch supporter the Hawaii Farm Bureau in committee hearings.  Yet, he stated in the full council hearing that he respects Hawaiians, as did Council member Baisa.  As one testifier said, “Half a cup of respect, is half a cup of disrespect.”   You either respect Hawaiians or you don’t.  Negotiating anything less than a 100% ban on all kalo varieties is disrespectful.

As soon as we know the schedule for Second Hearing we’ll send the kāhea.

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