Maui Petition Launched to Fight GMO: Battle Lines Drawn, Monsanto Responds

GMO Maui

GMO MauiThis week, a petition carrying 9,500 signatures was submitted to officials in Maui County, Hawaii. The petition is in an effort to suspend genetically modified crops on the island, and would put the proposal before voters in November. Monsanto isn’t taking all of this citizen-action sitting down, saying the potential ban is “a terrible initiative” and “meaningless.”

According to Maui Now, the petition is now before the county registrar, who is verifying the signatures to ensure they are valid before announcing whether or not it will go to the ballot.

Mark Sheehan PhD, one of five residents who started the petition, said “a wide range of illnesses — childhood cancers, miscarriages, birth defects, ADD, ADHD, allergies, asthma, and more — are related to the contamination of the environment from massive use of pesticides.”

The petition drive was the work of “The Shaka Movement”, a grassroots community organization targeting GMOs in Maui.

“Every day brings more evidence of research studies from around the world linking both pesticides and GMOs to these illnesses and ailments,” said Mark Sheehan, PhD and one of those who started the petition. “Submitting these signatures today was of major importance for the health of the public as well as our ability to take action to overcome the ineffectiveness of our compromised politics.”

Read: Hawaiian Citizen Activists Move Against GMOs

Politics, no doubt, funded by Monsanto.

For their part, Monsanto Molika’i officials say they will be mounting “an aggressive campaign” against the proposal. They say if passed, it would “devastate our county’s fragile agricultural economy.”

It’s true, hundreds of families on Maui make their money from GMO industry; they would be adversely affected. But, like many tough decisions, it comes down to what is most important.

“With almost 18 million farmers worldwide growing genetically engineered crops — 90% of whom are small farmers in developing countries — the SHAKA Initiative would stop Maui farmers from taking advantage of modern technology to help address some of the most pressing problems facing agriculture today,” argued the Hawaii Crop Improvement Association in a statement.

About 200 employees of Monsanto on Maui and 140 from Moloka’i marched in opposition of the petition drive last week. On March 30, their opposition held a rally that drew more than 1,000 participants, suggesting the potential ban has more support.

“The whole world is watching,” said Sheehan. “We have received support from around the country and other countries who are applauding what we are doing.”