Anti-GMO rally attracts hundreds

Anti-GMO rally attracts hundreds
Published: Dec. 15, 2013 at 10:02 PM HST|Updated: Dec. 16, 2013 at 2:28 AM HST
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Despite heavy rains, hundreds turned out in Haleiwa today for an anti-GMO rally.

Many came from Kauai and the Big Island, where the debate over genetically modified crops is still fresh. Others came from even further away, including this Hollywood star.

"GMOs are just a bad idea and we have to draw the line," said actress and longtime environmentalist Daryl Hannah.

"All of these people are here laying their bodies on the line. We're absolutely not going to take any more."

The Aloha Aina March, organized by a number of environmental and community groups, began at around noon at the Haleiwa 7-Eleven, where organizers estimated that about 1,000 people attended.

The march, which ended at Haleiwa Beach Park, included a number of well-known local figures such as surfers Kelly Slater, Dustin Barca and Makua Rothman.

"A huge wave has been built up about GMOs statewide," said Molokai activist Walter Ritte who opposed GMOs.

"You can hear it, you can hear the enthusiasm going on. We want this message that's coming from the people to get to the Legislature this year."

The protest comes several weeks before the opening of the Hawaii legislature, where protestors plan to introduce a number of anti-GMO measures.

But GMO proponents said they plan to fight any proposal to curb the use of GMOs or require further labeling.

"They just don't get it. Biotechnology is a tool that farmers need," said Alicia Maluafiti, executive director of the Hawaii Crop Improvement Association.

"They want genetically engineered seeds to withstand pests and disease, and improve yields."

Anti-GMO measures were recently approved on the Big Island and Kauai after attracting protests from hundreds.

The Kauai bill -- which requires agriculture companies to disclose the use of GMOs -- was only passed after the county council overrode the mayor's veto.

Organizers of today's rally say they hope to bring the momentum gained on Kauai and the Big Island to the state capitol.

"We're here to say no to GMOs. No on Hawaii. No anywhere," Hannah said.

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