Hawaii bans genetically modified taro, coffee

Hilo, Hawaii (AP) 11-08

The Hawaii County Council has overriden a veto by the Big Island’s mayor to ban genetically modified taro and coffee.

The council voted unanimously Nov. 13 to override the veto of Mayor Harry Kim, who argued Hawaii has an obligation to help feed the world through the testing of genetically modified organisms. Council members had approved the measure in October.

Many natives supported the prohibition, citing Hawaiian tradition that says humans grew out of the earth from the roots of the taro plant.

Opponents of the bill included biology researchers, farmers and business leaders, who said science is needed to save both crops from disease and pests.

Violators could face a $1,000 fine.