Anti-GMO activists on Maui make last minute petition push
WAILUKU, MAUI (HawaiiNewsNow) - Holding stacks of papers, members of the SHAKA Movement (an anti-genetically modified organism or GMO group) confidently marched into the Maui County Clerk's office Tuesday afternoon.
The effort marks the final push to get a proposed GMO ban on the general election ballot in November.
"You'll hear all about this study and that study and it's already been proven safe and there's been millions meals eaten and on and on," said supporter Joe Marshalla, PhD.
"And so we're saying nuff already," Marshalla said.
To get on the general election ballot, an initiative petition must have about 8,500 valid signatures or 20 percent of the number of people who voted in the last mayoral election.
Last time the group turned in about 9,500 signatures, more than half were rejected because of duplicates and signatures with incorrect information.
One of the petition's founding fathers, Mark Sheehan, says he is confident this new batch of 9,500 signatures turned in on Tuesday will get the measure on the ballot.
Then it is on to a bigger challenge convincing voters in the November election.
"You know who we're up against...one of the biggest bullies of the planet. Monsanto has bullied, has filed lawsuits against 500 farmers," said Sheehan.
"They put up this story line that millions, trillions of meals are safe but it's just a big lie," Sheehan said.
The Hawaii Crop Improvement Association, a pro-GMO group, released this statement in response to the SHAKA Movement's efforts on Tuesday:
We strongly oppose the efforts of the Shaka Movement because their political agenda is entirely based on fear, misinformation and catchy slogans.
The assertions of this ballot initiative lack any scientific basis. Targeting GMO farms and foods with arbitrary laws gives the impression that they are harmful to humans, which is contrary to scientific fact.
If passed, this initiative will devastate Maui's economy and will put hundreds of residents out of work. It will hurt Hawai`i's agriculture industry and set us back in our efforts to diversify our local economy. It will be a blow to all local farmers in the state, restricting their choice on what to grow.
We trust that the Maui County Clerk's office will diligently vet the new signatures for authenticity. We hope the good people of Maui will discern and look beyond the baseless rhetoric.
For the first time, Maui County Mayor Alan Arakawa spoke out about the debate, staying neutral.
"I'm not going to argue one way or the other, because it's going to be up to the different groups to be able to make their point publicly about it," Arakawa said.
Sheehan says the County Clerk's office has ten days to review the signatures. He says they should know if they make it on the November ballot or not by next Friday, June 6th.
(Wendy Osher of mauinow.com contributed to this report)
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