Bid to Override County GMO Restrictions Is Dead — for Now

The crowd inside the hearing room for the discussion and vote on an amendment to Hawaii's Right to Farm Act on Feb. 4, 2014. The bill had a 3-3 vote and thus died. (PF Bentley/Civil Beat)

A bid to override county regulations on genetically modified crops failed to make it past a crucial Senate committee Tuesday.

Hawaii Sen. Clarence Nishihara, who chairs the Senate Agriculture Committee, originally introduced the bill amending the state's Right to Farm Act through Senate Bill 3058 last month.

That bill would bar counties from enacting laws that limit farmers’ use of certain biotechnology. Both the Big Island and Kauai approved laws last year that, among other things, imposed regulations on genetically modified crops.

When it became clear that the measure might not move forward before a procedural deadline, a plan was devised to insert the bill's language into another piece of legislation, Senate Bill 110.

But the effort stalled on Tuesday afternoon when Nishihara couldn't gain majority support in the Senate Agriculture Committee to replace the text in SB 110. The vote was split 3-3. Sen. Glenn Wakai was absent.

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