Leaping Heart! ~ Mahalos from Big Island farmers...

Posted by kahea at Oct 17, 2008 06:48 PM |
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Here’s the report back from Na Kahu o Haloa, the Guardians of Haloa, of Moku o Keawe (Hawaii Island):

From Nancy Redfeather- coffee farmer, Kona:

Welina mai kakou,

Mahalo Nui to everyone who worked toward the passage of Bill 361 yesterday in the Hilo Chambers and around the island. The Bill passed 9-0 to become the first Law in the State of Hawai’i to ban a GE crop, Taro and Coffee, The ordinance is located in the “General Welfare” section of the Hawai’i County Codes. Mahalo to the work of KAHEA and others in gathering testimonies, as well as everyone who came to testify in Kona, Waimea, and Hilo.

Mahalo Nui for working together to rally the strong

public voice statewide, and speak to the Council and Mayor in a strong, knowledgable, and united voice. The biotech industry did it’s best to influence everyone in the room, including the editorial staff of The Hilo Tribune Herald, in an editorial on Monday morning that gave Bill 361 the thumbs down. But it didn’t matter.

The “biotech industry partners” did their very best to twist arms behind backs, threaten to “pull their votes in the coming election,”threaten the council with federal “preemption” (that was the Farm Bureau and

it’s Lawyer). Actually I am a member of the Farm Bureau and I was surprised at their very aggressive and “false” accusations of Bill 361. It felt as if they might be introducing a state preemption bill at the coming conference next week, they took such a war-like posture.

All your voices were strongly heard in the Council Chambers as many of the Council raised their 4″ fat books of testimonies, really looked heavy!

Bob Jacobson had his secretary counted 660-90% of the testimonies that were “in support.” Council Yagong from Hamakua, a fence sitter after round 2, decided to do a random poll of coffee farmers, his staff called 89. 82% were in support of the Bill as stands, that was convincing for him. In Kona 53 out of 60 farmers polled said yes (88%).

There are so many wonderful stories that happened over the 3 hearings, perhaps we can continue to tell how government, farmers and the people came together during 3 hearings, under the guidance of Haloa, to protect the intrinsic value and integrity of our heritage crops, while under tremendous pressure. It is a story of courage and clarity, of passion and connection, and “how dare you tell me what to do on my farm!” Opposing the Bill were those well dressed ladies from the Hilo Chamber of Commerce, HDEBT, HDOA, UH Manoa, Mayor’s Office, County R&D, HSTC – Lisa Gibson, HCIA , State and Hawai’i County Farm Bureaus, Richard Manshardt, etc…the usual crew and other papaya and orchid/anthurium farmers from Puna.

Coexistence=contamination was a definite theme. Again, perhaps we can share some of our favorite moments with this group. After 7 years of education and other work, it was wonderful to see so many people come up to testify with our book in their hand [Facing Hawaii's Future by Hawaii SEED]. At the end, Emily Naeole thought that the Hawaiian woman on the cover looked like her and that she held a baby and was crying. ” That is how it is for us mothers,” she said.

Aloha and Mahalo,

From Jerry Konanui- taro farmer, Puna:

Democracy lives in our Hawaii County Council

Mahalo to the the Hawaii County Council, who heard the overwhelming voices of taro, coffee growers and consumers last week–and stood by them. In passing a island-wide ban on genetically modified (GM) taro and coffee, they have acted wisely to protect public health, food security, and our Hawaii Island agricultural economy.

This historic decision was in stark contrast to the actions of Clift Tsuji, State House of Representative Agriculture Committee Chairman, who–after receiving well over 7,000 voices in support and around 240 against–aborted and killed a moratorium on genetically modified (GM) taro proposed in SB 958 last session.

In a poll conducted by Councilmember Yagong, 80% of coffee growers and 90% of Hawaii Island taro growers expressed support for the GMO taro and coffee ban. Over 1,200 consumers, and growers wrote to support County Bill 361.

It is a breath of fresh air a moment of hope and calm that simply says democracy lives here in Hawaii County.

Endless mahalo nui to all who found it important enough to, as Aunty Emily says, stand your ground and voice your mana’o–and I mean those who were against the bill as well. It is through this process of lively, healthy, and open debate that we can educate each other and others to do the right thing for the benefit of the majority of the people. We each have a voice, a vote, no one more important then the other. This transcends race, age, ideology and status of any kind every voice is important and needed if we are to co-exist in harmony.

We welcome Mayor Kim’s suggestion that all stake holders come together and work on this very heated subject about genetic engineering of our foods. We are not against biotechnology, we are for safe, transparent science and a science of mutual respect and consensus. We are and always have been open to dialogue. So hele mai! Hele mai!! E ho’ohui ana kakou!! Makaukau makou!!

Mahalo ke Akua, na kini akua, na aumakua, na kupuna.
Jerry Konanui, he kahu o Haloa

Jerry also adds:

The FAT stack of testimony was really impressive, god I was like a crying fool!!! (=

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