Hawaiian GM Debate Mirrors Larger Debate

From Maui Weekly: Council Reviews Taro Bill

For those who arrived at the Maui County Council Chambers on Thursday, June 25, anticipating a consensus on a proposed ordinance to ban genetically engineered (GE) kalo, or taro, in Maui County, it soon became very clear that a decision may hang in the balance for some time.

After listening to hours of testimony Thursday afternoon, the council’s Economic Development, Agriculture and Recreation Committee reconvened on Monday, June 29. However, Monday’s hearing, which many hoped would yield a vote to push the bill to the full council, generated a flurry of uncertainties from several committee members.

Seems to me this small, local debate serves as a neat case-study, and presents many of the same issues that arise in the debate over GM more generally, including:

  • Trouble defining what counts as “genetic modification;”
  • Mistrust of science;
  • Super-mistrust of corporate science;
  • Questionable scientific competency on the part of relevant government authorities;
  • Difference of opinion within the farming community;
  • Commercial interests trying hard not to look like commercial interests (and hiding behind the public interest);
  • The trading of silly rhetorical barbs (one side is “anti-science” and the other side is “patriarchal.” Ug.)

About Chris MacDonald

I'm a philosopher who teaches at Ryerson University's Ted Rogers School of Management in Toronto, Canada. Most of my scholarly research is on business ethics and healthcare ethics.
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