Though Monsanto won with their wallets in a few states during mid-term elections, residents of Maui County in Hawaii, known as ‘GMO Ground Zero,’ claimed a victory against the biotech bullies when a measure to ban the planting of genetically modified organisms passed with 50.2%.
You can bet that Monsanto, and Dow AgrosSciences, among other GMO interests, tried to stop the ban in Hawaii, too. Both companies own enormous GMO growing and testing operations in the islands.
They spent nearly $8 million to try to defeat the ban, making it the most expensive campaign in Hawaii’s history, according to Honolulu Civil Beat.
The Maui County Genetically Modified Organism Moratorium Initiative will ban all GMO growth, testing, or cultivation in the county until an environmental and public health study is conducted and finds the proposed cultivation practices to be safe and harmless.
Ashley Lukens, who directs the Hawaii chapter of the Center for Food Safety, told Civil Beat:
“I think that this is a really strong message to the entire agrochemical industry in the state of Hawaii that we are no longer going to sit idly by and watch them expand their operations without the kinds of regulations that ensure the health and safety of people across Hawaii.”
Hawaiians are currently living with crops that are sprayed with over 80 different types of chemicals by Big Ag business. The people of Hawaii have become more adamant about limiting the damage of these pesticides and herbicides to their environment and their own health – really one and the same.
Those who voted for the ban have warned that biotech creates billions of untested chemical combinations which then spread into “our neighborhoods, oceans, reefs, groundwater, drinking water, food supply and bodies.”
The Hawaiian Department of Health tested the surface water around the island last year, only to find pesticides in 100 percent of the samples.
According to official election results, the moratorium passed with approximately 1,000 votes.
In comparison to the millions raised in industry dollars by ban opposition group Citizens Against the Maui County Farming Ban (CAMCFB), supporters of the initiative raised just under $65,000.
“It’s only a matter of time before no amount of spending by Monsanto and Pepsi will be able to suppress the evidence against our industrial model of toxic monoculture crops.”
—Katherine Paul, Organic Consumers Association
Maui’s win, along with the success of Humboldt County, California, which also passed a GMO ban, cost Monsanto and DuPont at least $24 million. Perhaps they could have used that money to come up with a better business plan than to poison the entire planet.
Though Colorado’s measure to label GMOs lost —where corporate contributions lead by Monsanto and DuPont Pioneer topped $16 million, as well as Oregon’s (where a record-breaking $18 million was spent), we are still making progress, and as more people learn about GMOs we can only expect the heat against these companies to rise.
Katherine Paul, communications coordinator for the Organic Consumers Association, told Common Dreams:
“Change doesn’t happen overnight. But as we’ve seen with other movements (women’s right to vote, gay marriage) over time, the will of the people ultimately overcomes the opposition—even opponents like Monsanto that can, and do, spend millions to protect corporate power.”
Christina Sarich is a humanitarian and freelance writer helping you to Wake up Your Sleepy Little Head, and See the Big Picture. Her blog is Yoga for the New World. Her latest book is Pharma Sutra: Healing the Body And Mind Through the Art of Yoga.