Council members review controversial Hawaiian taro ordinance

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July 13,2009

MAUI COUNTY, Hawaii: After listening to hours of testimony on June 29, 2009, Maui County council members could not come to consensus to push a proposed ordinance to full council hearings. The ordinance, which was introduced by Councilmember Bill Medeiros, would prohibit “genetically engineered and recombinant DNA taro” and make it unlawful for “any person to test, propagate, cultivate, raise, plant, grow, introduce, or release genetically engineered or recombinant DNA kalo” in Maui County. The ordinance also states that Hawaiian cultural identification with kalo, or taro, “will suffer irreparable harm,” citing a series of rationale; namely, "inadequate safeguards to prevent cross-contamination of crops."[1]

Committee Chairwoman Jo Anne Johnson reminded her colleagues that postponing a decision would be frustrating for members of the community. However, some members of the committee were in disagreement with the chairwoman.

"It is the duty of responsible elected officials to seek more information before making a decision,” said Councilmember Mike Molina, “I make no apologies.”

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