There’s an elephant in the room in Maui. It’s been here for months, everyone is sick of it, and it’s not leaving until Tuesday. Even then, there will probably be great piles of elephant dung left flung about.
I’m referring to the Maui County GMO Initiative (genetically engineered organisms),calling for a moritorium on the growing of GMO seeds in Maui County, until further studies can be carried out. Hawaii has the lowest voter turnout in the ENTIRE country, and Maui County has the lowest voter turnout in the state. You do the math. But this initiative has driven more residents than ever to get involved. And it’s getting
In a nutshell, Monsanto and Dow Chemical corporations are planting four crops per year on Maui, and spraying over 80 chemicals in their open-air laboratories and chemical test sites. These chemicals mix in the fields and spread into the neighborhoods, ocean, reefs, groundwater and our bodies. The Environmental Protection Agency admitted that they do not test to regulate any of the billions of possible chemical combinations occurring in and around the GMO fields. In July, 2014 the State Department of Health stated that ALL surface waters tested in Maui County are contaminated with pesticides.
And birth defects are on the rise. According to doctors on Kaua’i, babies born next to GMO fields are born with 10 times the national average of a rare heart disease. On Kaua’i, Moloka’i, as well as Maui there are cases of babies being born with their intestines on the outside of their bodies. The Big Island now bans any new GMO crops because the GMO Rainbow Papaya has contaminated the island.
Monsanto and Dow Chemical are the only two chemical corporations growing commercial GMO seed and test crops on Maui. They are not growing any food for Hawaii.
According to the SHAKA movement (proponents of the Initiative), the “Citizens Against the Farming Band” is a front group that was created by a project manager of Mycogen (Dow Chemical) on Moloka’i to trick the voters into voting against their own best interests. Monsanto and Dow have spent millions (8 million…they have outspent opponents of GMO’s 100 to 1) on propaganda to confuse and scare uninformed citizens, all in order to avoid safety studies and maintain its seed-testing operations on Maui. With Monsanto contributing $5.1 million to the fund, it’s the most money ever raised for a single campaign in state history, according to Tony Baldomero, Associate Director of the Hawaii Campaign Spending Commission. By comparison, “Former Governor Linda Lingle spent about 6.5 million…but that was over a four-year period. This is over a two – month period,” he said.
So that’s one side of the coin. On the flip side, small farmers believe they will be fined or jailed and that the Initiative’s moratorium on GMO’s will not allow crops to finish their lifecycle. They believe there will be job losses. (However, the GMO corporations can switch back to growing non-– GMO seed crops, which they have already begun to do.) The Initiative is not a pesticide law, but farmers have been persuaded that they will not have a right to use pesticides….
The facts are this: Monsanto and Dow Chemical have caused 189 “Superfund Cleanup Sites.” These are sites contaminated with hazardous substances. In each case they claimed everything was safe until the court ordered them to pay. On July 25, 2014 Monsanto was ordered to pay $93 million to the tiny town of Nitro, West Virginia for poisoning citizens with Agent Orange. On August 21, 2003 Monsanto and Solutia, Inc. were ordered to pay $700 million for poisoning Anniston, Alabama with PCBs.
Dr. Lorrin Pang, Maui District Health Officer, and Mark Sheehan, Ph.D., started the SHAKA movement petition to implement a “temporary moratorium” on the cultivation of genetically engineered crops in Maui County “until studies prove they are safe.” The group gathered more than 9,000 valid signatures in support of the measure, becoming the first citizens group in Maui County history to have gathered enough support to put initiative on the ballot. Several states have pushed for GMO – labeling laws but only two, Maine and Connecticut, have managed to successfully pass labeling laws.
Advocates argue that biotechnology helps fill a critical need for food in the world. The (Bill) Gates and Warren Foundations, both private humanitarian organizations, partnered with Monsanto to fund an effort on a seed farm in Kihei (Maui) to develop drought resistant maize that could be grown in the poorest, driest areas of Africa. Pang stated that while those groups may have good intentions it doesn’t change the health affects their GMO practices might have on the environment and the public. When asked why regulatory agencies like the EPA and FDA allow the cultivation of crops, without having completed sufficient studies, Pang likened GMO to cigarettes. “Until the 1950s, big tobacco (companies) said, ‘no harm has been shown.’ That doesn’t mean there is no harm; it just means studies haven’t been done,” he said.
On a lighter note, you can view a SNL-type parody by the SHAKA group here: http://www.voteyesmaui.org (quite funny…wait for it…)
Also, my friend who is a Maui attorney read every word of the Initiative. I didn’t have that kind of patience, but as a lawyer, I trust that she wrangled the facts buried in all the legalese. She is voting “YES” for the Initiative, for a GMO moritorium on Maui. Here it is:
Yes, these are sad, stressful times on Maui. Dr. Lorrin Pang says he does not eat papayas anymore because of this issue. Mayor Alan Arakawa was quoted in the Maui News (www.mauinews.com) on October 19, 2014. As he heads into what he hopes will be a new four-year term, he reflected on the changes in the community he was reared in and the one today. Watching the ugly bullying, threats, defacing of trees and signs and cursing going on over the GMO Initiative worries him. “It is really sad. That shift is what I think will be the ruination of our community and breaking all the lines of trust that we have built for generations,” he said.
If you are local, PLEASE vote your heart on this coming Tuesday, November 4th. If you love Maui…please vote.
(All facts sourced from The Maui News and the group “Maui Citizens’ Initiative for Temporary Moratorium on GMO Crops”, PO Box 790538 Paia, HI 96779)
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