Hawaii is a growing center for genetically modified crops, as large biotech companies like Syngenta, Monsanto, Pioneer, Dow and BASF have set up offices on the smaller islands of Oahu, Kauai and Molokai. However the island nation is on a mission to stop engineered organisms and make sure they never come to the Big Islands. The Hawaii County Council just passed a bill that bans all genetically modified organisms (GMO) and forbids biotech companies from operating on the Big Island.

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Biotech companies and biologically engineered crops are a large and controversial business in Hawaii. The Huffington Post reports that public testimonies held in support of the GMO banning Bill called the modified crops as “bad as a nuclear disaster.” Many of the testimonies cited that the crops might cause cancer, birth deformities, tumors, sterility and even widespread devastation.

While there’s still not enough scientific data to say whether GMOs are safe or not, they can definitely be harmful to farmers. GMO seeds can be expensive, and even if the plants produce viable seeds farmers are not allowed to use them, because the seeds are patented to the original biotech company.

For now it seems that the GMO debate will continue in Hawaii. The GMO-banning Bill 113 was actually the tamer of two bills that the Big Islands considered. Bill 109 would have banned all genetically modified plants – in similar fashion to Peru’s recent 10 year ban – including papayas already grown on the island,

Via Huffington Post