S.B. NO.














relating to genetic engineering.





SECTION 1. The legislature finds that the economic health of Hawaii's agricultural sector is critical to the overall health of Hawaii's economy, and that this depends in major part on the high reputation of Hawaii's farmers and their agricultural products.

Growth in genetically modified agricultural production, which uses genetic engineering to produce agricultural products, has been swift and pervasive throughout the nation. The quick acceptance of the new technology by American farmers may, however, pose serious consequences for conventional agriculture -- consequences that scientists do not yet fully understand. Those consequences have created doubt within the farming community and Congress about the wisdom of 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 or alter other plants or animals, including insects and microorganisms that interact with domestic crops, as well as plants and animals within the natural environment.

No practical way of safeguarding against this risk is available, other than abstaining from use of genetically modified material. The effect on the United States economy is significant. China recently rejected 545,000 tons of imported United States corn found to contain an unapproved genetically modified strain, according to a December 20, 2013, Associated Press article.

In Hawaii, the counties of Kauai, Hawaii, and Maui recently adopted ordinances to restrict the growing of genetically modified organisms. As reported in an Associated Press article on August 25, 2014, a federal judge ruled that the county of Kauai ordinance is preempted by state law and therefore invalid. On November 14, 2014, the Associated Press reported that a federal judge is preventing implementation of the county of Maui ordinance, which was approved by voters in the 2014 general election, pending a lawsuit brought by Monsanto Co. and Dow Chemical Co. On November 26, 2014, the Honolulu Civil Beat reported that the county of Hawaii ordinance had also been invalidated by a federal judge due to preemption by state law. Currently there is no ban or partial ban of genetically modified organisms in effect in the State of Hawaii.

In light of the great uncertainty surrounding the safety of emerging biotechnologies and their effects upon human health, government must respond in a rational and compassionate way. The "precautionary principle", while not a new concept, has gained acceptance in Europe and within the scientific community. Perhaps the best known formulation of this principle within the scientific community is the Wingspread Statement, which states in pertinent part: "Therefore, it is necessary to implement the Precautionary Principle: When an activity raises threats of harm to human health or the environment, precautionary measures should be taken even if some cause and effect relationships are not fully established scientifically." In this context the proponent of an activity, rather than the public, should bear the burden of proof. When government faces a decision regarding the introduction of technologies where the health and safety consequences to the public are unknown, the precautionary principle provides that precautionary measures should be taken, even if the risk to the public is uncertain, to mitigate possible negative consequences.

The purpose of this Act is to require the department of agriculture to adopt the precautionary principle in order to anticipate, prevent, or minimize the adverse effects of biotechnology and genetic engineering.

SECTION 2. Chapter 141, Hawaii Revised Statutes, is amended by adding a new section to be appropriately designated and to read as follows:

"141‑   Precautionary principle; genetic engineering. The department of agriculture shall take precautionary measures to anticipate, prevent, or minimize the adverse effects of biotechnology and genetic engineering. Where there are threats of serious or irreversible damage, lack of full scientific certainty should not be used as a reason for postponing the application of precautionary measures, taking into account that policies and measures should be at the lowest reasonable cost. To achieve this, policies and measures should take into account different socioeconomic contexts, be comprehensive, cover all relevant sources, and comprise all agricultural sectors."

SECTION 3. New statutory material is underscored.

SECTION 4. This Act shall take effect upon its approval.








Report Title:

Genetic Engineering; Precautionary Principle



Mandates the department of agriculture to take precautionary measures to anticipate, prevent, or minimize the adverse effects of biotechnology and genetic engineering.




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