Maui anti-GMO petition drive

Published: Apr. 8, 2014 at 3:26 AM HST
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GMO opponents on Maui gathered nearly 10,000 signatures for a petition barring genetically modified crops.

"When we march these signatures in, we have accomplished something they told us no can be done," said Alika Atay, member of the Shaka Group, which helped organize the drive.

"I think the general public is saying 'nuf already, you know. The statement is very loud and clear to all the politicians and all the corporations."

The anti-GMO crowd needed 8,500 signatures to get their petition on the ballot. Their initiative seeks a moratorium on growing genetically modified crops and seeds until growers can prove that their products are safe.

Activist held a celebration of their accomplishments outside the county building. It attracted several celebrities, including Ben Cohen, co-founder of Ben and Jerry's Ice Cream.

"We have yet to awaken the sleeping giant. The sleeping giant is just coming alive. These 10,000 signatures is just the beginning wave," Atay said.

But GMO supporters are also gearing up. They staged a rally last week at the same exact location. They say the moratorium is based on bad science and will hurt Hawaii's economy.

"This is going to put local people out of business. Local people, local jobs, people working hard every day." said Alicia Maluafiti, executive director of the Hawaii Crop Improvement Association.

"All this does is make it harder for farmers to remain viable and it's going to result increasing food costs."

Farmers and large see companies plan to contest the petition at the ballot box. And they plan to challenge the petition in Hawaii's courts.

The Maui County Clerk's office has 45 days to verify and review the signatures. If 8,500 are deemed valid, the petition will likely before Maui voters during the November elections.

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