GMO Labeling Rally
Whether you love them or hate them, why not label Genetically Modified Organisms? Uncle Walter Ritte, longtime activist from Moloka`i organized an event on February 21st to bring attention to both GMO labeling issues and the fact that none of the bills that would require such labeling will be heard this session. Uncle Walter reminded us all that it is our job to pressure lawmakers to take seriously this issue. Read more about Kukunaokalā's (our intern) experience--he went the day they built the ahu for Hāloa on the lawn as well as the day of the consecration and rally. See you next year at the capitol for this issue!
Check out our photos from the rally here.
It is an amazing sight and overwhelming feeling to experience a gathering of people with one common goal. It is this feeling that I had the opportunity to experience during the assembling of the ahu and Hāloa kiʻi at the state capitol on February 6th. Uncle Walter Ritte headed the operation which deconstructed the ahu originally located at the University of Hawai`i Kamamakūokalani Center for Hawaiian Studies, transported, then reconstructed on the lawn of the capital. During the construction of the ahu, Uncle Walter took the time to speak to the haumāna of Hālau Lōkahi as well as whoever else wanted to listen, about the importance of advocacy and how these GMO labeling bills will affect each and every one of us on a personal level.
While 80% of the processed foods in the United States contain ingredients that are genetically modified, neither the State or Federal governments see the need to label these foods as such. In response to such negligence, a group of Molokaʻi residents and University of Hawaiʻi students, led by Uncle Walter built an ahu and proceeded to erect a kiʻi in the form of Hāloa at the State Capitol. Hāloanakalaukapalili was the eldest child of Wākea and Ho`ohōkūikalani. He was stillborn; his body was buried and from it grew the first kalo plant. Ho`ohōkūikalani became pregnant again and gave birth to another son, healthy and strong. He was named called Hāloa, the first Hawaiian man, progenitor of the Hawaiian people and namesake of his older brother. The kiʻi is a physical representation of the sacred relationship that kānaka have with kalo. Uncle Walter uses the story of Hāloa to remind people that we serve nature, not the other way around.
The Hāloa ki`i is at the capitol to bring attention to the legislative bills that would require the labeling of genetically modified foods sold in Hawaii. Clift Tsuji, the chair of the Committee on Agriculture (and 2010 winner of the Biotech industries “co-legislator of the year”, Calvin Say was the other recipient) refused to hear any of the GMO-labeling bills this session. In response, Uncle Walter and friends organized a rally on February 21, 2012, consecrating the Hāloa ki`i and building momentum for an even bigger campaign next session.
The event began on the lawn with an opening ceremony centered on the ahu and the Hāloa. Haumāna from Hālau Lōkahi and Hālau Kūmana offered oli and hula, and shared their mana’o. The rally then proceeded to move into the rotunda where a stage had been erected decked out with amplified speakers, professional microphones and videographers at all angles. There were guest speakers who filled the rotunda with words of encouragement, motivation, facts, opinions, mo’olelo, and mana’o. Glen Martinez, President of the Hawaii Farmers Union, compared his first hand experiences as a farmer in the 1970s with the farming conditions today. His conclusion was that the actual acreage of land in agriculture in comparison has significantly decreased while the amount of urbanization and industrialization continues to rise. Uncle Walter, a Hawaiian activist of Moloka`i spoke to the cultural prospective on GMO’s and our kuleana as stewards of the `āina to protect the integrity of our food sources both locally and abroad. Representative Faye Hanohano spoke briefly on her position in regards to this issue and made it clear to her constituents that she is and will continue to be in total support of the movement. As a totally unexpected surprise, Anthony Aalto of the Sierra Club took his speaking time to talk about the Purple Spot! Loving the solidarity action! For a great re-cap of the GMO rally ma ka ‘ōlelo makuahine, check out this great coverage from our friends at `Oiwi TV: