Maui is the latest Hawaiian County to launch a citizen initiative requesting a ban on the cultivation of genetically engineered crops. The Hawaiian islands, in particular, have a movement that seeks to protect the biodiversity on the islands citing health and environment.
The aim of the citizen initiative is to force genetically modified labeling legislation. SHAKA (Sustainable Health Agriculture for the Keiki and the Aina) coordinated the movement and gathered enough signatures to require a county-wide vote.
SHAKA represents a grassroots campaign that stands for “preserving paradise for future generation by reclaiming, restoring and revitalizing depleted soil, and growing healthy foods without a dependence on chemicals.”
Over 9,000 valid signatures were collected by the group, more than enough to place the measure on the ballot. The ordinance moves to the county council which has two months to decide whether to enact the initiative or bring it to a vote in November by Maui residents.
Hawaii has become a battle ground for genetically modified (GM) crops as its climate has made it a prime target for agrichemical companies to test new and experimental GE crops with increasing environmental contamination as a result. A May 2014 report found 25 herbicides, 11 insecticides and 6 fungicides in Hawaii’s waterways, underscoring resident concerns for both the land and human health.
Last year Kauai and Hawaii County became the first localities and counties to enact legislation restricting the cultivation of GM crops. A federal lawsuit has recently been filed requesting the federal court to declare the legislation and GM ban as unconstitutional, while ignoring the increased exposure of Hawaiian residents to environmental contamination.
The Maui County proposal is more restrictive than the Kauai and Hawaii County ban and would prohibit most of the farming done by both Monsanto Company and Mycogen Seeds, an affiliate of DowAgroSciences, in addition to that of other farmers who rely on genetically modified seeds.