Resolution 236-02 by the Hawai’i County council “Supporting the Development of a Regional Review Protocol prior to Any Release or Planting of Genetically Modified (GM) Coffee in the Districts of North and South Kona”
September 25, 2002
Council of the County of Hawaii
Res. 236-02, Draft 3
A Resolution Supporting the Development of a Regional Review Protocol prior to Any Release or Planting of Genetically Modified (GM) Coffee in the Districts of North and South Kona in Order to Assure and protect the Biotic Integrity and Market Value of Pure Kona Coffee
WHEREAS, coffee has been grown continuously in the districts of North and South Kona for over one hundred and seventy years and is acknowledged to be one of the highest quality coffees in the world and the Guatemalan cultivar, also referred to as Kona typica, is the predominant variety grown; and
WHEREAS, the close to two century-long heritage of Kona coffee has produced a unified community uniquely rich in history and culture unlike anywhere in the world; and
WHEREAS, Kona Coffee today provides an enormous economic contribution to the County of Hawaii and the State of Hawaii, generating approximate yields of 3 million pounds of green coffee annually with an estimated income at the farm gate in excess of fifteen million dollars, and a much higher value at the wholesale and retail levels, supplemented by an increasing amount of ag-tourism dollars earned daily from the Kona Coffee Festival, farm tours, and other expanding coffee belt activities, is produced on approximately 650 farms, employing 650 families and other farm workers; and
WHEREAS, three research institutes: the University of Hawaii College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources (CTAHR), the Hawaii Agricultural Research Center (HARC), and Integrated Coffee Technologies (ICT) are conducting research on Oahu to develop genetically modified (GM) coffee plants;
WHEREAS, the high farm gate value enjoyed by Kona coffee growers and the expanding niche market established by the Kona coffee industry merits thoughtful, respectful, and protective attention from responsible federal and state agencies, and private entrepreneurial interests involved in the development of biotechnology; and
WHEREAS, although coffee is primarily self pollinated, since it may be cross pollinated approximately 10% of the time, non-genetically modified coffee in neighboring orchards could become pollinated with genetically modified (GM) pollen; and
WHEREAS, organic coffee is an expanding high value crop within the Kona Coffee industry and organic coffee must contain no trace of GM interference and organic coffee farmers would not be able to prove non-contamination from GM plantings in the region except at high cost for special DNA tests; and
WHEREAS, the Specialty Coffee Association of America has stated that a genetically modified coffee is not consistent with their definition of quality; and
WHEREAS, with delayed acceptance or non-acceptance of genetically modified coffee and some other crops by Japan and European Union nations, as well as the fact that several states of the United States are currently reviewing legislation that would require genetically modified foods to be labeled, the price of genetically modified Kona coffee could be negatively impacted due to decreased demand; and
WHEREAS, before commercialization, genetically engineered plants/organisms must conform with standards set by state and federal marketing statutes including state seed certification laws, the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FFDCA), the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA), the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), and the Federal Plant Pest Act; and
WHEREAS, while it is recognized that the County of Hawaii has no regulatory authority nor county department with the scientific competence to regulate the release and development of GM crops, the Hawaii County Council may legitimately respond to the concerns of farmers and others with a stake in the future of Kona’s gourmet coffee industry, and may further express such concerns to those agencies and institutions responsible for the development, permitting, oversight and regulation of GM crops; and
WHEREAS, the Kona coffee industry and the University of Hawaii College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources have expressed an intention to work together on an ongoing basis to continually reevaluate the potential consequences to the release of GM coffee stock.
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED BY THE COUNCIL OF THE COUNTY OF HAWAII that the Council, in response to concerns expressed by the Kona Coffee Council, the Kona Farmers Alliance, the Kona County Farm Bureau, the Kona Pacific Farmers Cooperative, the Hawaii Coffee Association, the Hawaii Organic Farmers Association, as well as individual Kona coffee farmers, supports the development of a regional review protocol prior to any release or planting of genetically modified coffee in the Districts of North and South Kona.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Hawaii County Council recognizes the success of genetically modified science specifically in the Hawaii papaya industry and is not opposed to the development and research of genetically modified coffee.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that copies of this resolution shall be forwarded by the County Clerk to the Honorable Benjamin J. Cayetano, Governor, State of Hawaii; [the resolution proceeds to name 15 more individuals and the entities they represent].