With almost 18 million farmers worldwide growing genetically engineered crops--90 percent of whom are small farmers in developing countries--the SHAKA Initiative would stop Maui farmers from taking advantage of modern technology to help address some of the most pressing problems facing agriculture today.
The story of how University of Hawai'i researchers saved the papaya industry from the ringspot virus is a success story known around the world about the potential of science to help farmers. Today, researchers in the Philippines are working on improving the nutritional content of rice to reduce blindness in children in third-world countries. And the Gates Foundation is working on drought-tolerant crops for subsistence farmers in South Africa who are facing extreme temperatures due to climate change.
Technology is not the villain. Ignorance is.
The SHAKA Movement has used fear, misinformation and intimidation to push an anti-science ideology based on a narrow anti-business agenda that would shut down agriculture on Maui, result in the immediate loss of hundreds of jobs and have significant negative economic impact on the entire county. More importantly, it robs farmers of their freedom to farm, their freedom to choose and their absolute American freedom to use every tool in the toolbox to ensure the viability of their business. And they are in the business of feeding the world, unlike the SHAKA leaders.
If this initiative was not so dangerous to our economy and impactful to the hundreds of people who would lose their livelihoods from its passage, it would be laughable. The science is in and it is clear. Not only are biotech crops safe, but they are vital to our ability to feed the growing population of our planet with the shrinking agricultural land available.
Sadly, initiatives like this pit malihini who are new to Hawai'i and more interested in building time shares and vacation communities against local people who have a rich tradition and history in farming, and work hard every day to raise their 'ohana and provide food, shelter and a future for their keiki.
Foods developed through biotechnology are the most well-tested and highly regulated foods in U.S. history. Over the past 30 years, thousands of independent peer-reviewed studies on the use of biotechnology in agriculture have been conducted. Every biotech crop on the market has been through rigorous testing and been reviewed by the multiple regulatory agencies worldwide that are responsible for ensuring the safety of our food.
The overwhelming scientific evidence and strict federal regulations have proven that food grown using biotechnology are just as safe as conventionally grown crops. On top of the research and regulations, for decades, food containing biotech crops has been widely consumed without any known impacts.