GMO ban struck down; critics and supporters weigh in

Published: Jul. 1, 2015 at 1:47 AM HST|Updated: Jul. 2, 2015 at 11:35 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Anti-GMO activists, who celebrated when the moratorium passed in November, are now vowing to keep fighting after a judge invalidated the ban on Tuesday.

The ruling means the county law does not  supersede state and federal laws that allow genetically engineered crops.

"This is really an unprecedented event that just happened and the people of Maui should be outraged over what's going on," said Michael Carroll, lawyer for the anti-GMO group The SHAKA Movement.

Carroll says big agriculture companies spent millions to beat the 23,000 people who voted for the moratorium.

"I think it sends a message to the Maui voters that their vote does not mean anything," Carroll said.

Pro-GMO group, Hawaii Crop Improvement Association, released a statement in part saying:

"Thousands of scientific studies and decades of scientific research consistently show genetically modified crops are safe and can be grown in harmony with the environment."

Farmers have also said from the start a ban would cause significant economic harm to the community.

Monsanto, which has genetically modified crops in the county, said it looks forward to continuing to support the communities in Maui, Molokai and Oahu where its nearly 1,000 local employees live and work.

University of Hawaii Law professor Ken Lawson says Tuesday's ruling doesn't mean the judge ruled in favor or against GMO's, it's strictly an order addressing county authority.

"Basically the state determines agriculture, and it has to be uniformed throughout the state. In other words, one county can't do one thing and other county do another," Lawson said.

The county says it never did enforce the ban to begin with after GMO supporters launched immediate legal challenges.

The county said Tuesday it will abide by the ruling.

Carroll said they will file an appeal within the next 60 days.

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