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GMO seed corn farmers looked at the slopes above Honu`apo several years ago as a possible site for a new farm but the land
has since been taken off the market with Ka `Ohana O Honu`apo hoping for it to be purchased for preservation.
Photo from Hawai`i Pacific Brokers 

A HOME RULE RESOLUTION passed the County Council this week in response to bills considered at the state Legislature. The resolution calls for the state to protect the counties’ authority to regulate the cultivation and development of genetically engineered crops and plants and associated pesticides.
      The resolution states that “the Council is concerned that state Legislators have introduced legislation designed to eliminate county level authority (‘home rule’) over agricultural practices, even when certain practices may severely impact the health of neighboring residents and the unique and delicate ecosystems of each island.
      “The counties’ foremost obligation is to protect the health and safety of its population and are aware that standard medical facilities in our outer-island counties are not equipped with toxicology laboratories for either sufficient or sophisticated testing of illnesses and harms that may result from genetically engineered organisms or their associated pesticides.
      “The counties are also aware that in 2013 the multinational agrochemical corporations lead an effort to gut the jurisdiction of the counties, such that they would no longer have any authority over matters concerning the health and wellbeing of their residents. (See 2013 Senate Bill 727.) In addition, the multinational agrochemical corporations advocated to further erode the ability of either the state or the counties to regulate the cultivation of genetically modified crops by way of Senate Bill 590, a proposed amendment to the Right to Farm Act aimed at insulating these corporations from lawsuits and regulations that might in some manner curtail their cultivation, development, or testing of genetically engineered crops in the state of Hawai`i. The counties abhor these efforts to undermine local government protection of the people and the environment.”
      Resolution 272, introduced by Kohala Council member Margaret Wille, is available on the County Council Feb. 19 meeting agenda at hawaiicounty.gov.
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Richard Ha writes about food security and GMOs. 
RICHARD HA, OWNER OF HAMAKUA Springs Country Farms, discusses the future of Hawai`i Island farming on his blog, hahaha.hamakuasprings.com. Ha writes that, according to Hawai`i Rural Development Council surveys, food security is Hawai`i’s number one priority. “‘Difficulties faced by local farmers’ is number three, and ‘GMO agriculture’ is number five.”
      Ha says that banning genetically modified organisms, a lower priority issue, “threatens our food security (our most important concern). I say this all the time because it’s so important to remember: If the farmers make money, the farmers will farm. We need our farmers farming in order to have food security here in Hawai`i. We need to work toward that end.”
      Ha explains how agriculture and energy are tied together: “Working toward having low-cost energy here on the Big Island will strongly benefit both our farmers and the rest of our people — it lowers food cooling costs for both farmers and their customers. It will help the farmers to farm, which will increase our food security.
      “We are lucky to have the option here of generating electricity with geothermal. Geothermal-generated electricity is similar to oil in its characteristics. It is steady. And very importantly, it costs only half as much as oil and will not run out anytime soon.
      “It's all related. Geothermal energy means lower electric bills, for both farmers and consumers. Lower electric bills means farmers keep farming, and consumers have more food security out here in the Pacific where we import 80 percent of our food or more. Lower electric costs also mean consumers have more discretionary income, and that helps our local economy.
      “Banning GMOs (a.k.a., biotech solutions to farming problems, which all our competitors will be able to use) moves us in exactly the wrong direction,” Ha concludes.
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Developers of biofuel farms have described the pastures between Pahala and Na`alehu as
abandoned sugar lands. A measure in the state legislature would study potential for
growing crops for ethanol on such lands. Photo by Julia Neal
“AN ABUNDANCE OF VACANT SUGAR CANE LAND” in Hawai`i could be used to produce ethanol, according to a bill making its way through the state Legislature. According to SB2198, Hawai`i requires that gasoline sold in the state contain ten per cent ethanol, and Hawai`i imports all of its ethanol, along with crude oil, from overseas. “Despite several planned ethanol plants and an abundance of vacant sugar cane land, no plants have been built,” the bill states.
      The bill, which would establish a renewable fuels task force within the Department of Business, Economic Development & Tourism, is up for a vote in the state Senate after being approved by the Ways & Means Committee.
     Richard Lim, the director of DBEDT, was a founding partner and serves on the board of Sennet Captial, LLC., which lists `Aina Koa Pono one of its transactions. The Managing Director of Sennet Capital is Kenton Eldridge, who is also co-founder and chair of `Aina Koa Pono. See www.sennetcapital.com and www.ainakoapono.com.
        The bill would require the task force to perform a feasibility study involving locally produced renewable fuels. The task force would submit a final report of its findings and recommendations to the 2016 Legislature.
      This bill and others can be tracked at capitol.hawaii.gov.
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HAWAI`I HEALTH CONNECTOR is making a push in Ka`u this weekend for sign ups for Obamacare through the Ka`u Rural Health Community Asosciation, Inc. Ka`u Rural Health, which received $120,000 in grant money to help people sign up for health care in Ka`u, sent out an email yesterday, saying that it is “a Marketplace Assister Organization for the Hawai1i Health Connector. To make an appointment to enroll for health care coverage, residents in the Ka1u district are asked to cll the KRHCAI Kokua Assisters at 928-0101. A statement from the Health Connecter yesterday said the state’s online health insurance marketplace “is promoting a Weekend of action this weekend. Enrollment and outreach efforts will be happened statewide, with Kokua on hand to help residents with the enrollment process.”
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Work is available for a full-time college student at Pahala Library. Photo from Pahala Public & School Library
PAHALA PUBLIC & SCHOOL LIBRARY has opened up a position for a fulltime college student with computer skills. Those interested can inquire at the library or call 928-2015 and ask for Debbie Wong Yuen. Pahala Library is open Monday, Wednesdays and Thursdays from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. On Tuesdays it is open from noon to 3 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. On Fridays, it is open from noon to 5 p.m.

NA`ALEHU PUBLIC LIBRARY'S 20th anniversary celebration is toady until 3 p.m. with entertainment and free refreshments. 939-2442.

VOLCANO ART CENTER OFFERS an introduction to Zentangle on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at its Ni`aulani Campus in Volcano Village. Cost is $35 or $30 for VAC members with $10 supply fee. Call 967-8222. t

SPAGHETTI DINNER & SILENT AUCTION to raise money for the Ka`u Hospital ER is tomorrow, Saturday, 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. at Na`alehu Community Center. Ka`u Red Hat Ladies and Ka Lae Quilters are the sponsors. Tickets are $9.99 from Pahala Quilting and Ka`u Rural Health Clinic.

SEN. RUSSELL RUNDERMAN’S TOWN HALL MEETING will be open to the public on this coming Monday, Feb. 24 from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at Pahala Plantation House on the corner of Maile and Pikake Streets. Light refreshments will be served. Call 808-586-6890 or email senruderman@capitol.hawaii.gov.

SEE THE DIRECTORY 2014 ONLINE. For a page-turning version, see www.kaucalendar.com/Directory2014.swf. For a pdf version, see www.kaucalendar.com/Directory2014.pdf.











































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