This past month many of you helped Down to Earth join with the Hawaii Citizens for Food Choice to obtain over 4,000 signatures petitioning the state legislature to hear two bills related to genetic engineering (GE), also known as GMOs—genetically modified organisms. We are deeply grateful for your support.

SB3232 would have required labeling for all GE whole foods sold in Hawaii (fruits and vegetables in their raw or natural state), and SB3233 would have compelled companies to reveal the location of test plots and production of GE crops.

While the petition was unsuccessful, we made our voices heard on a matter that is critical to consumers’ right to choose.

Why? Not everyone is convinced they're safe, while others oppose them on basic philosophical grounds. Against this backdrop, a UH professor’s survey confirmed last year that fully 85 percent of Hawaii’s residents felt it was important that genetically engineered foods be labeled.

People have a right to choose what they eat, what they feed their families, and what is happening on our lands. To this end, they should be informed.

The lack of required information takes away consumers’ right to choose. Government and the GMO industry say there's no difference between GMO and conventional crops, so according to them we don't need to know.

It's wrong for government to deny us our right to know in this way. Whether or not GMOs are safe is irrelevant. Our right to know what is in the food we are buying, our right to choose our preferred food, and our right to know what is happening on our lands should not be usurped for any reason.

Few choices in our daily lives are as important as the food choices we make for ourselves and our families. On this point, we should be the ones in control, not government.

We hope for your support next session, as we continue to call on the state legislature to support consumer’s right to know.

As always, thanks for shopping at Down to Earth.

Mark Fergusson