By Wendy Osher
A week of Occupy Wall Street Maui events kick off today with the establishment of an encampment near the Monsanto offices in Kihei.
A series of marches, rallies and vigils are planned throughout the week as the group expresses their concerns over herbicide use, production of GMO products, and arguments of impacts on small farmers.
An event flyer makes claims of food supply control, government manipulation and environmental poisons.
Monsanto Hawaii Community Affairs Director, Paul Koehler responded to the planned demonstrations saying that while the company respects everyone’s right to voice their opinion, he said, “It’s unfortunate that a number of misleading and factually incorrect statements about Monsanto and genetically engineered crops continue to circulate.”
He said the company recognizes that the topics can be complex and reiterated the company’s commitment to transparency and dialogue.
“We’re happy to have an open, respectful discussion with anyone genuinely interested in learning more about who we are and what we do,” he said.
The week of events planned by Occupy Wall Street Maui and posted on the occupymaui.com website include:
- Monday, January 23, 2012: a roundup-themed garden highlighting concerns over herbicide use.
- Tuesday, January 24, 2012: a march is planned past Monsanto crops along the Piilani Highway in South Maui.
- Wednesday, January 25, 2012: a rally in Kahului is planned to spread information on the effects of GMO products.
- Thursday, January 26, 2012: a march is planned in Wailuku to protest Monsanto and claims of the company’s influence in government.
- Friday, January 27, 2012: An Occupy with Aloha event is planned at the University of Hawaii Maui College.
- Saturday, January 28, 2012: Plans to Occupy local farmers markets and fruit stands, and gathering for a day of teach-ins, music, and organic food is planned.
- Sunday, January 29, 2012: A dusk vigil will be held for small farmers at the occupation site fronting Monsanto on Maui.
Koehler said Monsanto Hawaii is working with the Police Department to ensure safety of all during the planned Occupy events. “Our number one concern,” he said, “is for the safety of everyone involved, including that of drivers passing by on the highway, pedestrians, our employees and the demonstrators.”