HONOLULU—In front of a crowded gallery, consumers and distributors exchanged extremely emotional testimony at the Consumer Protection Committee hearing on House Bill 174 which requires the labeling of genetically engineered fresh produce sold in Hawaii.
Consumers, including parents that escorted children, outlined the risks of consumption along with the need for transparency of labeling while distributors emphasized the safety of genetically engineered foods and the costs associated with implementation. HB 174 eventually passed through the Committee and now moves on to the House floor where it faces another reading.
Maui State Representative Mele Carroll stated, “Assuring that our citizens have a choice as to what they consume, HB 174 will provide that choice by having our food labeled if they are genetically engineered. Although there is conflicting data about the safety of genetically engineered foods, the essence of HB 174 is to provide the consumer with the right to understand the contents of what they eat through accurate labeling. I am therefore delighted that the Consumer Protection Committee passed the Bill and it now moves to the House of Representatives session floor for another reading and then on to the Finance Committee.
“At both the Committee and House review of the Bill, some of my Representative colleagues expressed reservations due to the increase costs associated with the labeling. From the testimony given, I do understand there are opposing opinions about the benefits of labeling, but I introduced this Bill on the basic concept that the right to be informed is of utmost importance. I believe the Consumer Protection Committee comprehends this right and so eventually passed my Bill. I shall continue to see HB 174 through the legislative process,” said Representative Carroll.