Hawaii County Mayor Billy Kenoi signed Bill 113, which restricts the expansion of transgenic crops grown on the Big Island.
"Our community has a deep connection and respect for our land, and we all understand we must protect our island and preserve our precious natural resources. We are determined to do what is right for the land because this place is unlike any other in the world," wrote Kenoi in a message to the Hawaii County Council. "With this new ordinance we are conveying that instead of global agribusiness corporations, we want to encourage and support community-based farming and ranching."
Mayor Kenoi continues in the letter, "The debate over this bill has at times been divisive and hurtful, and some of our hard-working farmers who produce food for our community have been treated disrespectfully. We are determined to protect every farmer and rancher. Agriculture on Hawai'i Island will continue to grow with county assistance, investment and support."
The measure limits most use to enclosed structures such as greenhouses.
Opponents say the law will give growers elsewhere a competitive advantage. They also say discussion among council members was not significant before the meeting.
Farmers already growing genetically modified crops, including papaya growers, would be exempt from the new ban.
Last month, the Kauai County Council voted to override a veto of a bill requiring large farms to disclose use of genetically modified crops.