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Big Island of Hawaii News, 11 June 2013 through 12 June 2013. Post #2133


The views expressed in this Hawaii news summary are mine unless otherwise stated.

Big Island of Hawaii News is following these Hawaii stories through Wednesday, 12 June 2013:


GMO could benefit Hawaii’s floriculture industry.

Closing arguments made in hammer attack trial.

Gas station removed to make way for apartments.

Wille wants decision on GMO.

DETAILS (with sources cited):

(Hawaii Tribune-Herald).  “Hawaii Tribune-Herald” reporter Tom Callis will finish his series on GMO (Genetically Modified Organisms) on Wednesday.  In his first three installments, Callis has examined the issue from both its positive and negative aspects.  On Tuesday, Callis discussed how GMO technology could help Hawaii Island’s flower industry, which has been hard hit by bacterial diseases.

According to Callis, the next big GMO application could be used to protect the state’s valuable flower crops from disease, an especially critical issue for Hawaii Island’s anthurium growers.  Scientists believe that genetic engineering “could be used to both develop strains resistant to a bacterial blight that devastated Big Island growers in the 1990s and introduce new colors to the plant’s palette, such as blue and purple.”

For now, field trials for the proposed projects are a few years in the future, but research is producing sufficient data to give local flower farmers hope that the flower disease can be controlled.  Michael Inouye, the president of the Hawaiian Anthurium Industry Association, tells reporter Callis that scientific advances give us “something to look forward to, and this gives us something to get a grasp on.”

Jon Suzuki, a molecular biologist with the Pacific Basin Agriculture Research Center, told reporter Callis that the research is similar to what was done with papaya some twenty years ago.  Suzuki said, “essentially, a gene from the bacteria would be introduced into the plant’s DNA, allowing it to become resistant.”  That approach worked with papaya farmers, who were devastated by the ringspot virus.

The data so far indicate that such an approach would work with anthurium growers.  There’s a lot at risk—the value of the state’s anthurium industry has been placed at around $3.4 million.

(Stephens Media).  While we’re on the topic of transgenic crops, the Hawaii County Council is preparing to discuss a GMO bill introduced by Kohala Councilwoman Margaret Wille.   Wille told reporter Erin Miller that the bill to control GMO on Hawaii Island is critical because she’s seeing “both proposed GMO projects on Hawaii Island that concern her and ways banning GMO here could provide the county with an economic boost.”  Wille contends that “we should have (a) meaningful say on this island on the food we eat.”

Bill 79 would ban genetically modified crop growth, with a few exceptions, such as one for the island’s established papaya industry.  Wille told reporter Miller that she’s heard rumors of Monsanto asking a Hawaii Island ranch for a 1,400-acre GMO corn test.  She also claims that Japanese investors discussed with her their plans to buy “noncontaminated beef.”  Wille says that there are “people…willing to put in a $40 million slaughterhouse if we can guarantee a supply of noncontaminated beef.”

The Hawaii County Council will review the GMO bill on 02 July at the West Hawaii Civic Center.

(Hawaii Tribune-Herald).  On Monday, final arguments were made in the attempted murder trial of Robert Diego, with prosecutors telling the jury that the former mortician tried to rob and kill Hilo antique and coin dealer Donald Nigro, while the defense team called Nigro a liar and a murderer.

According to reporter John Burnett, the 70-year-old Diego is accused of striking the 67-year-old Nigro with a hammer on 13 June 2011 at Nigro’s Hualalai Street apartment.  Nigro spent three days at the Hilo Medical Center with a skull fracture and other injuries.

Deputy Prosecutor Darien Nagata called Diego’s account of the incident “an outrageous story.”  Diego claimed that Nigro tried to cheat him out of some valuable possessions, groped his  privates, and then attempted to perform a sex act on him.

Diego’s attorney William Heflin told the jury that Diego acted in self-defense and referred to Nigro’s murder conviction for a 1971 slaying.  Heflin concluded his statement by saying the state “didn’t come close” to proving its case against his client.

If the jury convicts Diego of attempted second-degree murder, Diego could face a life sentence with the possibility of parole.

(Hawaii Tribune-Herald).  According to reporter Tom Callis, a downtown Hilo gas station at the corner of Keawe and Haili Streets “has been dismantled to make room for the property owner’s plans for a new apartment building.”

Vincent Tai, who owns the property says he wants to build a commercial and residential building about “four or five stories tall, but is waiting to see if the right zoning changes are made.”  The change would require an amendment to the County Code permitting on site parking and residential density to be increased from a limit of 1,000 square feet of land per unit to 500 square feet.

Last Thursday, the Windward Planning Commission supported the amendment, but final approval is still needed from the Hawaii County Council.  Tai contends that his proposed building would help “bring residents back to the city center” but he hasn’t provided any details on how the building will look.

The Hilo Downtown Improvement Association is supporting the proposed zoning request, with HDIA President Jeff Melrose telling reporter Tom Callis that it  ” will remove barriers for downtown housing and bring more people to Hilo’s commercial core.”


Hilo and vicinity–Mostly cloudy with a few windward showers.

Kailua-Kona and vicinity–Partly cloudy with a few showers south of Captain Cook.

Highs near 83.  Lows near 68.  Winds shifting to the east northeast, 6 to 12 mph, by Wednesday.

Sunrise Wednesday–5:41 a.m.  Sunset Wednesday–7:00 p.m.  Total hours of daylight–13 hours, 18 minutes, and 31 seconds.


Hilo High Tide–4:55 a.m./5:56 p.m.  Hilo Low Tide–12:11 a.m./10:41 p.m.

Kailua-Kona High Tide–5:33 a.m./6:34 p.m.  Kailua-Kona Low Tide–12:48 a.m./11:18 a.m.


Hapuna Beach breaks–1 to 3 feet.  Kona and Banyans–1 to 2 feet.  Ka’u and Pohoiki–1 to 3 feet.  Hamakua, including Kolekole Beach Park–1 to 3 feet.  Hilo and Honolii–1 to 3 feet.


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