Hawaii is at the center of the fight over genetically modified organisms (GMOs)—and the food people are eating all over the United States.
Because of Hawaii's favorable climate, plant breeders and food companies do huge amounts of research and seed development there, including modifying and transforming crops via all sorts of biotechnology. In 2013, two islands in the Aloha State passed legislation restricting GMO use and local and international activists are pushing for broader bans across the rest of the state. Anti-GMO activists say that the crops are potentially harmful and can contaminate the rest of Hawaii's agriculture.
Legislators are currently considering a bill that would mandate labeling on all foods with genetically engineered material, a move that critics claim would increase the cost of food in Hawaii even more (according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Hawaii already pays about 40 percent more for food than other states). Other states are also proposing GMO-labeling schemes because of the fears associated with such products. Connecticut and Maine, for instance, have already passed labeling laws, but they won't go into effect until after other states follow suit.
The battle over GMOs will likely turn on questions of safety and property rights: Are GMO foods safe for human consumption? And who gets to decide how cropland is used—voters or landowners?
Reason TV traveled to Hawaii and reports on both issues.
For more on the situation in Hawaii—and the scientific consensus that GMO foods are absolutely safe to eat—read Reason Science Correspondent Ronald Bailey's story, "The Fable of Hawaiian Frankencorn." For Reason's coverage of GMOs, go here.
About 9 minutes.
Produced by Sharif Matar.
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