Two non-profits late last week stepped in to support a recently passed ballot initiative suspending GMO cultivation in Maui County, Hawaii, a policy currently being challenged by Monsanto and DowAgrosciences.
The ballot measure, approved by voters on Nov. 4, prohibits GMO cultivation or reproduction until environmental and public health impact studies, along with a vote and public hearing to repeal the policy, can be completed.
Both Dow and Monsanto, which have operations in the county, filed a suit challenging the GMO ban on Nov. 13. Per a subsequent agreement between the county and the companies, the policy will not take effect until March 15, 2015, the Honolulu Civil Beat reported.
In response, groups supporting the GMO cultivation moratorium, the Center for Food Safety and Earthjustice, filed papers in Honolulu District Court Nov. 21 to defend the policy.
"The people of Maui County decided they would no longer sit idly by as the State of Hawai‘i becomes a poisoned paradise of intensive genetically engineered crop production and its intertwined pesticide spraying," CFS' attorney, George Kimbrell, said in a released statement.
Citing spending against the ballot measure, Earthjustice managing attorney Paul Achitoff said the delay of the moratorium was "Maui County’s betrayal of its own people."
"Since Maui County won’t defend the law, we’ll have to do its job and make the arguments in court," he said.
According to the Civil Beat, Monsanto and Dow AgroSciences own or lease more 3,400 acres in Maui County and employ more than 400 people.
Are you interested in the GMO discussion? Penton Farm Progress Special Projects Editor Holly Spangler this summer explored GMO foods, GMO labeling and the general genetically modified food debate in an exclusive series. Follow the links below for more.