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Richard Ha Headshot

Big Island Cuts Off Nose, Spites Face

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According to Hawai'i Rural Development Council surveys, food security is Hawai'i's number one priority. "Difficulties faced by local farmers" is number 3, and "GMO agriculture" is number 5.

Banning GMOs (a much 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.

One way to do that is to remember that agriculture and energy are inextricably 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 important 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.