Guam – A bill that would require that products with the name “Guam” or “Chamorro” on it clearly state where the products are made drew heated debate at the legislature today (Friday).
Some argued against the bill saying it would force them out of business and reduce revenues to Guam while others argued for the measure saying it would even the playing field.
There are a lot of products out there that say the name Guam on them but many of them are not made on Guam. PNC news found a box of chocolates that is a good example of this. It says Guam on the front but the picturesque landscapes shown are of Hawaii. In fact the pictures of the famous Diamond Head mountain in Hawaii and Waikiki Beach. The box does say it’s made with imported nuts from Australia and is packaged in China but it’s in fine print and on the back of the box. Senator Judi Guthertz’s bill 226 would change this by requiring that this box of chocolates say that it is made in China directly underneath the word Guam and in a font that is at least half the size of the word Guam.
Some businesses came out in extreme opposition to this bill saying that it would hurt their business or that it would cost too much to change labels. “You will hurt the island, senators, let me stress it…the local companies can not can not make up for the loss of revenue that’s gonna come from all of the other companies that are gonna be shut down because we’re gonna change something that’s been good for 25 years,” said MIDPAC Director of Sales & Marketing James Castro.
“This is a good sample of a product that says Guam USA 70 dried mangoes but on the bottom it says product of the Phillipines. What’s wrong with that? That’s all we’re trying to see occur with this bill is consistency so if you’re a consumer and you go out to buy at any of the retail shops or grocery stores or whatever you know what you’re buying that’s all. It’s hard to do that right now. You don’t know what you’re buying,” chimed in the author of the bill Senator Judi Guthertz.
“Is there a huge complaint coming? Has there been a huge media publicity of tourists that are unhappy?” retorted Castro.
“Does that make it ethical? Does that make it right? Because you don’t have a hundred thousand people complaining?” responded Guthertz.
“We haven’t broken the law,” said Castro.
“And we’re gonna make the law better, but most of the folks go to the stores wanting to buy products made on Guam and they don’t know that it’s not made on Guam when they look at the packaging,” responded Senator Guthertz.
Others are in support of the bill as they say it would even out the playing field and give consumers the information that they deserve. Bob Mclaughlin is the owner of Chamorro Chip Cookies. His cookies have been manufactured on Guam for 30 years. He’s afraid products that are manufactured off-island with the Guam name on them will either drive him out of business or force him to manufacture his cookies in China.
“Actually it boils down to are we going to sell ourselves short are we going to sell the name Guam or Chamorro at any cost,” said a teary eyed McLaughlin adding,”We have a wonderful product it’s an icon on Guam I don’t want to see it die…I’m sorry….I don’t want to have Chamorro Chip Cookies made in China so please support this bill.”
The bill only requires this labeling for consumable commodities and if passed into law would take effect in 60 days of it’s passage.