On Sunday, March 30, a march and rally are being held to bring attention to the petition drive that has successfully been gathering signatures to put an initiative on the November ballot for a temporary moratorium on GMO crop growing and testing until proven safe
There are 8,500 signatures needed by Monday, March 31, and according to the most recent count, we are almost there. If successful, this will be the first time a citizens' initiative to place an issue directly on the ballot for the people to vote on will have worked.
This petition drive has garnered much support from the community and has been a source of citizen involvement.
There are over 300 petitioners. Have you seen us out there? We are everywhere apparently.
I have heard people say they have signed the petition at their church, at various businesses, their schools and on the University of Hawai'i Maui College campus, where I recently was petitioning in front of the culinary institute.
People ran up to me saying, "I want to sign. I do not like what is going on here. I am afraid for my children."
A group of nursing students all signed the petition because they felt that to be a nurse meant supporting health, and pesticide use by the biochemical companies was the opposite of that.
Many people thanked me for being out there.
But not everyone was so supportive. Approximately one out of 20 people who talked to me said they do not support this and are not against GMOs, citing different reasons. Some know what they are talking about and articulated their viewpoints well. I listened to them and then rebutted with information. But some walked by and were angry to be questioned about their views or to see me out their advocating for this.
I take the approach that getting this initiative on the ballot for people to vote on is a democratic process and needs to be supported--whether you agree with the issue or not. Come November, you can vote how you want. This argument has been compelling for some. A man who had turned down signing walked back after he heard me telling a woman who had scoffed at me. I said she should at least exercise her right as a citizen and support democracy. He said that made sense to him and signed it.
Being around the young students revealed that many of them are very aware of the issues, but are not registered to vote. They cannot sign the petition until registered. So, working in teams, we gave them information and the opportunity to register to vote. We know the legality of keeping the two separate, which is why we work in teams.
I predict, from what I see and hear out in the community, that new voters and inspired voters are going to the polls this election cycle to vote on environmental issues and candidates. I predict that this initiative is motivating otherwise election-weary veterans to get out and vote for candidates who are running on an environmental platform and to vote for a moratorium on pesticide use and GMO production.
This will not be the usual low-voter turnout that Maui is known for. Too many people have woken up and become educated and active.
Please come "March for the Future" on Sunday, March 30, beginning at noon at the Maui War Memorial parking lot. If you haven't signed the petition, do it then. We are joining with our sister islands and the global anti-biochemical community to protect the 'aina and our keiki from these companies that put profit before people's health.
We are going to change the political outcome this year.