Biotech Updates

Maui Council Approves GM Taro Ban

October 9, 2009

A bill prohibiting the cultivation and field trials of genetically modified taro, in Maui, the second largest of the Hawaiian Islands, has received final approval last week from the Maui County Council, according to an article published by the Maui News. Members of the council voted 9-0 to approve the ban, believing that taro is a sacred plant and should be kept in its natural form.

The Maui News quoted Mayor Charmaine Tavares as saying that she would support the ban. "I support the intent of the bill and the protection of Hawaiian kalo (taro), which deserves our respect and acknowledgment for its ancestral ties to Native Hawaiians, our host culture," Tavares said.

Some scientists, however, expressed opposition to the ban. Harold Keyser, from the University of Hawaii's College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources in Maui County, asked for some way to conduct research on the crop, stressing that in one case research on taro has led to the replenishment of a taro crop that was lost in American Samoa.

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