Hawaii GMO food labeling bill tabled
The Hawaii Senate committee on agriculture, consumer protection and health decided on Friday to table a proposed bill that would have required food containing genetically modified ingredients to be labeled.
The bill was tabled because legislators were concerned about how the labeling could potentially hurt the island’s food industry, said Sen. Rosalyn Baker, chairwoman of the consumer protection committee, told the Associated Press. She said senators are going to push for a resolution instead of a bill to ensure that more research is done with GMOs.
During the hearing, several employees of Monsanto Company testified that genetically modified food is not harmful and that labeling would drive up the cost of food and endanger jobs.
Originally the bill would have required any GM food sold in Hawaii to be labeled, but the House Agriculture Committee amended the bill to make it only imported food.
According to the Associated Press, Attorney General David Louie told lawmakers last week that the proposal likely violates the U.S. Constitution’s provision on interstate commerce. He said the bill may also violate businesses’ right to free commercial speech.
The agriculture industry greeted the decision to table the proposal as a victory. Those who supported the proposal were disappointed in the decision.
Sen. Josh Green, chairman of the Senate Health Committee, told the Associated Press after the hearing that even though the law won’t pass this year, it will happen in the future.
“Even the biotech industry is going to realize over time that the public trust is more important than any of the dissenting views today,” Green said.