This was, undoubtedly, the week of the food fight. A very serious one.

Boiling-hot GMO/biotech debates bubbled up on Kauai and the Big Island — and on our pages, where we tried and sometimes failed to keep this crucial debate civil.

We reported on a proposal circulating on the Big Island that would ban genetically modified Rainbow papayas there. It could lead to fines or even jail time for farmers of GMO crops. We went on to write about a GMO trade group’s claims that the industry didn’t get a fair shake in crucial hearings that could put limits on their extensive work on Kauai. (Both stories are below.)

Our cartoonist, John Pritchett put his finger on the underlying tensions in the GMO debate with his Signs of the Times drawing.

Passions around biotech flared brightly in reactions to writings on our community-voice pages. There, GMO-friendly journalist, author, scholar and consultant Jon Entine asked: Will the GMO Debate Consume Hawaii? He later suggested to us that he sees little space for agreement between the biotech industry and many of its opponents on the islands.

Entine inspired Hawaii local scientist Emily Marquez to write a community contribution from another side of the debate. She asked tough questions of the biotech industry: Why Are There Pesticides in the Air and Water?

The serious food fight motif gave extra poignancy to our Hawaii Snapshot — ‘The Enemy Is From the Mainland’, a lushly-filmed video report about a chain of grocery stores on the Big Island that have found success in selling locally grown (and often organic) foods.

Beyond all that, these are exciting times for Civil Beat. The end of the week brought the arrival of our new engagement editor, Gene Park. His position marks a first in Hawaii in that it has a social media focus. He sees articles as living narratives that should be nourished by other stories and collective discussions with people like you.

On Gene’s very first day, we published his view of his role and how he plans to bring you into the debates that matter here in Hawaii.

The last bit of excitement came with the opening of The Civil Beat Law Center for the Public Interest. It will, among other things, offer free legal advice to journalists and others who are dealing with transparency issues and obstacles to obtaining “public” documents.

We’re looking forward to the future, and to you being a part of the discussion. Until then, here are a number of stories that are worth a close look, in case you missed them:

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