S.B. NO.



















SECTION 1. The legislature finds that the economic health of the State's agricultural sector is critical to the overall health of the State's economy, and that the successful interconnection between those two components depends, in major part, on the esteemed reputation of Hawaii farmers and their agricultural products.

Growth in genetically modified agricultural production has been swift and pervasive throughout the nation. However, the quick acceptance of the new technology by American farmers may pose serious consequences for conventional agriculture - consequences that scientists do not yet fully understand. Some members of the farming community and of the United States Congress have expressed doubts about growing genetically modified agricultural products.

The greatest potential harm of genetically modified crops is that the use of genetically modified seeds and plants by a farmer could unintentionally alter the crops being produced by a neighboring farmer. Such modified seeds could also alter other plants or animals, including insects and microorganisms that interact with domestic crops or plants and animals within the natural environment.

No practical way of safeguarding against this risk is available, other than abstaining from the use of genetically modified material. The effects on the national or state economy could be devastating. In June 2014, Reuters reported that over a seven-month period, China had rejected 1,450,000 metric tons of United States corn that was found to contain a banned genetically modified strain. China's rejection of that corn reportedly cost the United States agriculture industry up to $2,900,000,000.

The counties of Kauai, Hawaii, and Maui previously adopted ordinances to restrict the growing of genetically modified organisms. However, in August 2014 and 2015 the federal courts ruled that these ordinances were preempted by state and federal law. All three cases were appealed, but in November 2016, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit upheld all three of the lower courts' decisions.

Currently there is no ban or partial ban of genetically modified organisms in effect in the State.

The purpose of this Act is to require a biotechnology company that sells genetically modified material to provide to a purchaser a written disclosure of the possible risks from the use of such material.

SECTION 2. Chapter 147, Hawaii Revised Statutes, is amended by adding a new section to part VIII to be appropriately designated and to read as follows:

"147-   Genetically modified material; disclosure. (a) A biotechnology company that sells any genetically modified animal, genetically modified plant, or genetically modified seed that the biotechnology company knows or has reason to believe will be used to produce an agricultural commodity shall provide written notice to the purchaser that fully and clearly discloses the possible legal and environmental risks that the use of the genetically modified animal, genetically modified plant, or genetically modified seed may pose to the purchaser.

(b) The written notice under subsection (a) shall not relieve the biotechnology company from any liability that may result from the release of genetically modified material into the environment. The receipt of the written notice by the purchaser shall not be construed to waive any liability under this section.

(c) The chairperson of the board of agriculture may bring an action to recover a civil penalty against any person who violates this section or who has knowingly violated a rule or order made pursuant to this section. A civil penalty of not more than $100,000 may be assessed for each violation. Any penalty assessed under this section is in addition to any civil or criminal actions otherwise available against the same conduct.

(d) For purposes of this section:

"Biotechnology company" means a person, partnership, corporation, or other entity engaged in the business of genetically modifying an organism, or obtaining the patent rights to such an organism for the purposes of commercial use of that organism.

"Genetically modified animal", "genetically modified plant", or "genetically modified seed" means an animal, plant, or seed that contains a genetically modified material or was produced with a genetically modified material. An animal, plant, or seed shall be considered to contain a genetically modified material or to have been produced with a genetically modified material if it or the animal or plant from which it is derived, has been injected or otherwise treated with a genetically modified material, except that the use of manure as a fertilizer for the plant shall not be construed to mean that the plant or resulting seed is produced with a genetically modified material.

"Genetically modified material" means material that has been altered at the molecular or cellular level by means that are not possible under natural conditions or processes (including recombinant DNA or RNA techniques, cell fusion, microencapsulation, gene deletion and doubling, introducing a foreign gene, and changing the positions of genes), other than a means consisting exclusively of breeding, conjugation, fermentation, hybridization, in vitro fertilization, tissue culture, or mutagenesis."

SECTION 3. New statutory material is underscored.

SECTION 4. This Act does not affect rights and duties that matured, penalties that were incurred, and proceedings that were begun before its effective date.

SECTION 5. This Act shall take effect upon its approval.








Report Title:

Genetically Modified Material; Biotechnology Companies; Written Disclosure



Requires a biotechnology company that sells a genetically modified animal, plant, or seed that the company knows or has reason to believe will be used to produce an agricultural commodity to provide written disclosure of possible risks from the use of such an organism. Specifies that written notice does not waive any liability a biotechnology company may have toward a purchaser.




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