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PHOTOS: Maui Rally Against GMO Draws Strong Turnout

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   March 23rd, 2013 · 6 Disqus Comments ·
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Kahului, Maui - Rally against GMOs.  Photo by Rodney Yap.

Kahului, Maui – Rally against GMOs. Photo by Rodney Yap.

By Wendy Osher

A march on Maui against genetically modified organism farming drew crowds of sign-waving demonstrators along Ka’ahumanu Avenue in Kahului on Saturday afternoon.

Participants estimated the turnout to be in the thousands, but an official count was difficult to verify due in part to the mobility of the crowd.

The rally was one in a series that is planned on various islands across the state this month to raise awareness of the impacts of GMOs on the food supply, water and land, according to event organizers.

The final march in the series will be held on Moloka`i next weekend March 30.

“Today’s March in March event was part of state-wide effort to educate and raise awareness of the dangers of GMOs in Hawai’i,” said Molokai resident Walter Ritte, who flew to Maui to participate in the event.

According to Ritte, the Maui march “had the largest turn out (well over 2000 marchers) topping the nearly 2000 on Kauai and nearly two thousand combined in Hilo and Kona.”

Walter Ritte (left) at Maui rally against GMOs. Photo by Rodney Yap.

Walter Ritte (left) at Maui rally against GMOs. Photo by Rodney Yap.

“What an amazing show of Maui speaking out. I was totally blown away by the energy of the massive crowd. For me it was about caring about our community’s health, our right to know what’s in the food we eat and our right to decide whether or not we want to put genetically modified food in our bodies,” said Maui resident Mahina Martin who also attended the rally.

“Even with these astonishing turn outs of concerned consumers on the streets, the Hawaii Senate on Thursday killed HB 174, a Labeling bill which passed out of the House with only one no vote…  The protestors were encouraged to participate in politics and help elect leaders who will listen to the voice of the people,” said Ritte.

While the comment was directed to specific individuals one Maui lawmaker who has voiced support for GMO labeling advocates issued a message via Maui Now’s Facebook page following the vote.  In the message, Rep. Kaniela Ing said, “Be proud of what we accomplished and keep pushing. GMO labeling is common sense and inevitable. It’s only a matter of time before we meet the standard set by so many other industrialized nations. With your continued efforts, the time looks sooner rather than later.”

He continued, “With resolutions moving, the dialog is not over. And just think about what we accomplished: we passed a labeling bill out of the House chamber–that’s miles further than most states.  Thanks to you, Hawaii has become the leader and took a huge leap forward in the national debate. Next year, we’ll get the Senate on board; holomua.”

Kahului, Maui - Rally against GMOs.  Photo by Rodney Yap.

Kahului, Maui – Rally against GMOs. Photo by Rodney Yap.

The Maui march began at noon at War Memorial Stadium, and proceeded 1.8 miles to the Maui Mall in Kahului.

It was organized by GMO Free Maui in solidarity with the creators of March in March that included the leadership of the Hawai`i GMO Justice Coalition. GMO Free Maui is a group of citizens sharing concern for sustainability in Maui and what they believe to be the hazardous implications of genetically engineering on sacred land.

Many of the signs had specific messages to Monsanto speaking out against the company with posters that read, “Evict Monsanto,” “No Monsanto. We are not your lab rats,” and “Maui Occupy Monsanto.”

In response to a request for comment, Carol Reiman, Monsanto Hawai’i Government & Community Affairs spokesperson said, “We respect everyone’s right to voice their opinion. Unfortunately, we’ve heard many misleading and factually incorrect statements made about genetically engineered foods.”

“We realize the topic is complex, and that people have questions. We are committed to transparency and are happy to have an open, respectful dialogue with anyone genuinely interested in taking the time to learn more about who we are and what we do,” she said.

Reiman provided two pages of literature on biotech foods and research as well as commentary from commissions and agencies in support of the company’s products and practices.

Among the statements included in the information provided by Monsanto officials was the following:

“Biotech foods are the most well studied and highly regulated food crops in the world. Prior to being planted on our farms, they are extensively tested. Tests and additional materials are reviewed for safety by the USDA, EPA, Europe’s EFSA and numerous other organizations around the world, and have been found to be similar in safety profiles to other crops and foods in the market.”

***Further comments were requested from company organizers, but were unavailable at the time of this initial posting. This post will be updated when additional information is received.

Kahului, Maui - Rally against GMOs.  Photo by Rodney Yap.

Kahului, Maui – Rally against GMOs. Photo by Rodney Yap.

Kahului, Maui - Rally against GMOs.  Photo by Rodney Yap.

Kahului, Maui – Rally against GMOs. Photo by Rodney Yap.

Kahului, Maui - Rally against GMOs.  Photo by Rodney Yap.

Kahului, Maui – Rally against GMOs. Photo by Rodney Yap.

Kahului, Maui - Rally against GMOs.  Photo by Rodney Yap.

Kahului, Maui – Rally against GMOs. Photo by Rodney Yap.

Kahului, Maui - Rally against GMOs.  Photo by Rodney Yap.

Kahului, Maui – Rally against GMOs. Photo by Rodney Yap.

Kahului, Maui - Rally against GMOs.  Photo by Rodney Yap.

Kahului, Maui – Rally against GMOs. Photo by Rodney Yap.

Kahului, Maui - Rally against GMOs.  Photo by Rodney Yap.

Kahului, Maui – Rally against GMOs. Photo by Rodney Yap.

Kahului, Maui - Rally against GMOs.  Photo by Rodney Yap.

Kahului, Maui – Rally against GMOs. Photo by Rodney Yap.

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  • Nicole Daruda

    Monsanto’s track record as a company is inventing and poisoning the world with PCB’s, DDT, Agent Orange and Roundup. Monsanto makes all seed purchasers sign an agreement that they will not allow Monsanto seeds to be tested by others. The only useful scientific studies done other than Monsanto’s worthless junk science is the two year study that came out last year which clearly shows how bad Roundup and GMO corn is. Wake up world! Monsanto purchases politicians at all levels of government from Obama down to Maui. Guess who is footing the bill for the new police station going up in Kihei located directly beside Monsanto? Yup, that’s right. The United States Department of Agriculture is paying for this project with money they got from Monsanto. But go ahead, eat Roundup and GMO if you really want to.

  • Nicole Daruda

    Monsanto says they are committed to transparency?! How come they do not provide government and the public proper, third party, scientific studies of their GMO’s? If their products are safe how come they are spending millions buying politicians at every level. D If their products are safe how come their location are like top security compounds? Just try and enter Monsanto’s property in Kihei. You’ll find out how committed they are to transparency.

  • http://www.facebook.com/lynlie.waiamau Lynlie Waiamau

    The large turnout in Maui was in part a reaction to Hawaii senators who caved to industry pressures and killed the GMO labeling bill. The momentum had been building across the state and when the final blow was given to HB174 this week, people across Ko Pae ‘Aina Hawaii who had already marched sent messages of encouragement to those on Maui to make a strong statement to their Senator Rosalyn Baker who didn’t even want to give the labeling bill a hearing, let alone pass it. This is not the end of the issue by a long shot. Washington State will be next in attempting to pass a labeling bill and its even more important now with the Monsanto Protection Act being snuck in and passed in Congress this week. California almost passed Proposition 37 last year a law requiring GMO labeling, loosing by a very small margin against Monsanto and the like who spent 45 million fighting it. Its too bad our politicians couldn’t take a leadership role in passing a bill that simply asks for the right to know what is in the food we eat and set a precedent for other states to follow. Monsanto likes to discredit the public by calling us misinformed and fear-mongers. I beg to differ. Many of us have spent years studying the issue, listening to speakers, reading up on it and making difficult lifestyle changes to avoid GMO’s that were snuck into our food supply in 1996 without any public disclosure. One need only research the history of Monsanto over the years and you will see the trail of deceit and destruction they have left behind worldwide. If our politicians were willing to dig a little deeper and do their research, rather than be satisfied with the industry “research” that was spoon fed to them, they might have done differently. Mahalo to Maui for the strong turnout.

  • Cadence Feeley

    more photographs from the amazing march!
    http://www.cadenciablog.com/2013/03/24/gmo-free-march-on-maui/

  • Maui_Mike

    It is crystal clear that companies like Monsanto, Dow, and pioneer (DuPont) only care about profits, these are evil empires creating products that are killing both land and life forms of every kind, how these companies exist is simple, they have a political hold on our representatives, it’s time to vote the backers of this type of business out of office.
    In the mean time, be careful what you feed your family and yourself.
    I am impressed with those who showed up to protest, it was great!

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Brian-Mcc/100002147945135 Brian Mcc

    You elected these idiots ? Maybe you all should pay more attention to whom You elect, Hmmm?


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