The GMO labeling bill (HB 174) united many supporters of the bill and made much progress this legislative session. Ultimately, Senators Nishihara and Baker, in their capacity as chairs on behalf of three committees, deferred the bill and ordered that a study be done. Unlike the changing tides, or the blowing makani, this issue is rooted to this ʻāina, and to the people of this land. The life connection that ties the people of this land to this issue demonstrates why we will continue to fight.
The GMO labeling bill offered a simple proposition: all imported GMO foods are to be labeled. Unlike other countries that have banned GMO foods, “this measure is not anti-GMO; it’s pro-labeling.” As a pro-labeling bill, it would simply provide consumers with the knowledge of whether the crop is GMO or GMO free. With such a simple proposition, and with “farming” manufacturers and biotech companies attempting to convince the public that GMO crops are safe, then why not label it as a GMO product?
Ea. E mau ke ea o ka ʻāina i ka pono. The life of the land is perpetuated in righteousness. In Hawaiʻi, and as kānaka maoli, we are rooted to this ʻāina. Our genealogy and birth of our people stems from Hāloa, our older brother and the kalo plant. This birth connection to our land also describes the symbiotic relationship of kānaka maoli being stewards of the land that feeds us. Without ʻāina, without food, we will cease to exist.
As stewards of the land, it is inconceivable as to how “farming” manufacturing and biotech companies can “own” seeds, or life for that matter. It is also incomprehensible as to how a life being’s genes can be manipulated, “owned,” and sold. This same issue is currently before the U.S. Supreme Court on the case involving patenting human genes. This is hewa. Hāloa is kapu.
The “farming” manufacturing and biotech companies’ mechanisms and control – exerted in an attempt to maintain power over farmers, their employees, the farming and food industry, and the general public – strives to disconnect us from our land. This legislative session’s lack of transparency and democracy can also be linked to the hands of the “farming” manufacturing and biotech companies’ dollars. Hawaiʻi’s history traces back to many instances of big companies attempting to dispossess and sever our inherent lineage to our land. Kānaka maoli are not fooled, not silent, nor are they idle.
This ultimate fight over GMO labeling is very personal. This is a fight over kānaka maoli’s origin, Hāloa. Looking to our inherent indigenous wisdom, we shall plan and think about the impact of our decisions seven generations into the future. We shall continue to maintain our ea. Ea over ourselves, our people, our ʻāina, and our food.