7 Mar 2009

Taro security bill passes House committee hearing in Hawaii

11:27 am on 7 March 2009

A bill that seeks to retain the cultural integrity of taro by protecting it from genetic modification unanimously passed it's House Agriculture Committee hearing in Hawaii this week.

During the debate this week researchers said science could shield taro from devastating diseases while Native Hawaiians sought to keep taro pure and safe from tampering.

The taro security bill is setting out to protect the cultural integrity of taro as part of the heritage of the Hawaiian people and the State, but the bill still allows for genetic alterations of non-Hawaiian taro varieties in a laboratory.

But some taro farmers voiced concerns to legislators that genetically modified taro varieties could still cross-pollinate with Hawaiian varieties.

It now heads to a vote before the full House.

This is the third straight year that lawmakers have tried to pass a law protecting Hawaiian taro, which is used to make the starchy food poi and revered as an ancestor of the Hawaiian people.