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Vote No on the Farming Ban (Moratorium)

Public policy should be based on sound science and facts, not on opinion.

August 26, 2014
Maui Weekly

This November, our voters will need to decide whether or not a moratorium on the cultivation of genetically engineered organisms/genetically modified organisms (GEO/GMO) is warranted. We at GO Maui believe that a moratorium is not necessary and will, therefore, vote no on the proposed initiative on the ballot.

We have tried to learn more about this whole issue and have come to the conclusion that much more work needs to be done in terms of substantiating claims that GEO/GMO-related foods and cultivation/farming practices are harmful to humans. In fact, the more we study the issue, the more we find that GEO/GMO products are used or consumed by millions of people every single day. According to reports, common products that contain ingredients made from GE/GM organisms, their enzymes or their crops include: beer and wine, cold water laundry detergent, recycled paper, soap, shampoo, cosmetics, pet food, baking products, mayonnaise, salad dressing, candles, paint, fiber glass, fruit juices, cheeses, sausages, toothpaste, aspirin and hundreds more.

Additionally, one of the most detrimental effects of the initiative is that it can devastate our local economy and cause the loss of hundreds of jobs. Overall, 600 people could lose their jobs, and according to State Economist Eugene Tian, Molokai's unemployment rate could triple. Other negative economic effects include the harm to small businesses, and farmers and their families.

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The initiative ignores the scientific facts about GE food safety: over 1,500 studies and reviews by the National Academy of Sciences, the American Medical Association, the World Health Organization and the University of Hawai'i College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources, among others.

This initiative would ban the science that developed the Rainbow Papaya and saved papaya farming from the ringspot virus on Hawai'i Island.

The county will lose vital tax revenue from shutdown farms, meaning that programs such as senior services and other similar valuable programs could be cut or taxes increased to offset the revenue lost.

The criminal and civil penalties that would be imposed on farming in Maui County are truly excessive. The initiative imposes severe penalties--even for growing Rainbow Papaya. Farmers and backyard gardeners could face $50,000 in civil penalties and criminal penalties of $2,000 and up to one year in prison. Each day counts as a separate offense.

Shutting down farms without a sound justification is a dangerous precedent. It means that farmers cannot take advantage of future advances (like drought-resistant grass for Upcountry ranchers) and it bans GE corn, papaya, soybeans and squash, which can resist pests, and require fewer herbicides and less water.

Public policy should be based on sound science and facts, not on opinion.

For these reasons--the ban on long-standing farming operations, the lack of hard, scientific evidence, the loss of jobs and the devastation to our local economy and the imposition of steep criminal and civil penalties--I invite you to join with Go Maui and respectfully ask you to vote no on this initiative.

For additional information about Go Maui Inc. and how to donate, visit www.GoMauiInc.or



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