Coalition includes Maui Residents, Farmers, Hawai`i Center for Food Safety, Pesticide Action Network, Beyond Pesticides, The MauiMama, Wailuku Coffee Company, Living Aloha Magazine, Food Democracy Now! and More
Maui County, Hawaii (October 6, 2014) – Hawai`i Center for Food Safety (HCFS) is proud to announce the launch of a new coalition to protect Maui County residents from dangerous pesticides. The coalition, representing families, workers, and farmers, will work to support a temporary moratorium on the production of genetically engineered (GE) crops throughout Maui County until health and safety impact assessments have been completed. The temporary moratorium would impact less than 1% of the islands’ agricultural operations, targeting those entities that knowingly propagate genetically engineered crops.
“This coalition's singular emphasis is that it is the county’s responsibility to protect the health and safety of our keiki and kupuna,” said Ashley Lukens, program director at HCFS. “The moratorium and, more importantly, the assessment it requires are integral parts of meeting this responsibility.”
Maui County residents are currently considering a ballot initiative to suspend operations of GE facilities on the island pending a safety impact review. Presently, Hawai`i is used as an outdoor laboratory for manufacturers of genetically engineered crops. In 2013 alone there were 1124 field test sites, whereas states like California only hosted 184 sites (www.isb.vt.edu/). Most of these crops are engineered to resist herbicides and pesticides. Testing these crops means repeated spraying of dangerous chemicals near neighborhoods, schools, and waterways.
“Despite the claims of the multi-million dollar advertising campaign funded by pesticide manufacturers like Monsanto and Dow Chemical, the moratorium is NOT a farming ban. It applies only to those entities who knowingly propagate GE crops,” added Lukens.
This ballot initiative requires agrochemical companies to complete a health and environmental impact assessment before continuing their operations. Rather than growing food for local consumption, these operations are developing corn and soy varieties that have been genetically engineered to resist greater applications of their signature pesticides, posing numerous potential health threats to the neighboring communities.
The coalition is a part of a multi-pronged effort to educate voters on Maui regarding the importance of the moratorium's health and safety assessment requirements. Mediums for outreach will include paid advertising, door-to-door canvassing, and mailers.
“Win or lose on November 4th, we will continue to demand that the county assess the safety of these operations in a manner the sufficiently responds to the concerns of Maui County residents,” said Lukens.