Maui’s Next Steps on GMOs

Jul 6, 2015

Credit vagawi  / Flickr

Seed companies on Maui are conducting business as usual this week. Last week, a federal judge struck down a voter-approved initiative that would have stopped the growing or testing of any genetically engineered crops. But protestors are not giving up. Eileen Chao has more from The Maui News.


Waving signs with the messages “respect our vote” and “protect paradise,” dozens of Maui residents protested in front of Monsanto headquarters in North Kihei early Wednesday morning. The protest came just one day after U.S. District Chief Judge Susan Mollway issued a ruling that overturned the GMO moratorium passed by voters in November. The moratorium would have made it illegal to grow or test GMOs in Maui County until “studies prove they are safe” as determined by The Maui County Council.

But the judge ruled that the ordinance is invalid and unenforceable because it is preempted by state and federal law.  Anti-GMO measures on Kauai and the Big Island were also struck down in court last year, for the same reasons.  

Leaders of the SHAKA Movement said they were disappointed with the judge's ruling.  The citizens group collected more than 9,000 signatures to get the initiative on the ballot.  They intend to file an appeal, but that process could take more than a year.  In the meantime, seed companies will be able to continue operations as usual.  

Monsanto and Dow Agrosciences employ about 600 people on the islands of Maui and Molokai.