THE BLOG
12/01/2013 02:38 pm ET Updated Jan 31, 2014

Big Island's Anti-GMO Bill 113: It's Not 'Who' Is Right, It's 'What' Is Right

All of this hullabaloo about the Big Island's Hawaii County Bill 113, the anti-GMO bill - What it's really about is that we need to take a little more time, so we can be sure we are making good and informed decisions.

It's not "us against them." It's not "GMO against organic." It isn't "who" is right, so much as it is "what" is right.

It's significant that a group of farmers and ranchers who, between them, grow 90 percent of the food produced on the Big Island island, have banded together to say the same thing: We need to think this through more carefully.

These farmers and ranchers opposed Bill 113 because the bill was rushed and its consequences were not considered. We didn't take the time to think it all through and come to the best decision for everyone.

Bill 113 looks through a very narrow prism; there is a much bigger picture that is not being considered. We are not taking into account the risk of rising energy prices. We live in the humid subtropics, where there is no winter to kill off bad insects. Our solution has been to use petroleum products to fight them off and also to make fertilizers - but now, the price of oil has skyrocketed and this is becoming unsustainable.

Use solar energy, some say. But solar energy is only sustainable right now because of subsidies, and we cannot expect that subsidies will always be there.

A leaf, though, is also a solar collector, and it's free. Being able to leverage our sun energy year round -  assuming we have a way to control our pests - would make our farming and ranching industry, and our local food production, more than sustainable.

A solid solution to the extensive problems caused by rising oil costs is to use scientific advances. Biotechnology. It's comparable to how we use iPhones now to replace the big walkie-talkies we used before.

This would help us get off oil, and would also give us the advantage of a year-round growing season, among other benefits. It would help us all.

We need to think through all of this in great detail. All of us need to be open to the fact that our research might prove a certain favorite plan of action unsustainable. If that's the case, we need to move on to the next idea and research that one carefully, getting input from every side.

We need to consider unintended consequences of legislation. We need to slow down, and research, and make carefully informed decisions.