The Hawaii Senate committees on agriculture, consumer protection and health talked tough on Genetically Modified Organisms, proposing a bill that would have required imported GMO's to be labeled. But Thursday the tough talk ended and the bill was tabled.
The reason the state lawmakers gave for the turnaround was a fear the bill would hurt the food industry. The chairwoman of the consumer protection committee, Sen. Rosalyn Baker, had spoken out for it but seems now to have flip-flopped. She told media in that state on Thursday that instead of the bill, they will push for more research on the safety of GMOs.
Hawaii's attorney general, David Louie, believes that due to current federal laws on interstate commerce and laws that say labeling is not required on GMOs, a state law requiring labeling would not be constitutional anyways. "It is likely that any state effort to require GMO labeling will be viewed as either expressly preempted by the FDCA [Federal Food Drug and Cosmetic Act] or an intrusion on the comprehensive federal scheme of food labeling," Louie said Thursday.
Monsanto fights GMO labeling
The food giant Monsanto, and other food companies, are fighting labeling, claiming GMOs are safe and that labeling would needlessly drive up food costs and endanger jobs. However, there is a large coalition of consumer groups and organic farmers that continue to fight GMOs, saying no research yet that has proven GMOs to be safe and that elements of the food industry are using money to influence governments and consumers.
California is another U.S. state that considered mandatory labeling for GMOs but in November Prop. 37 was defeated by 51.5% (no to labeling) to 48.5% (yes). In that battle, unofficial tallies found Monsanto and other companies spent $44 million to convince Californians to vote no to Prop. 37, while the 'Right to Know' side had only $7.3 million to spend.
The committee members of the Hawaii Senate who decided to table the GMO labeling bill did not reveal how they would push the industry for more research.