Monsanto Challenges Passage of Maui GMO Initiative
By Wendy Osher
Monsanto Hawaiʻi today joined other individuals, groups and businesses including the Maui Farm Bureau and Dow AgroSciences in filing a lawsuit to challenge the measure that would place a moratorium on GMO cultivation in Maui County.
Company executives say the suit seeks to delay any enforcement of the measure and ultimately to have it declared unenforceable.
The lawsuit come on the heels of a newly passed referendum approved by Maui voters during the Nov. 4 general election that calls for environmental and public health impact studies, public hearings, and a two-thirds vote and a determination by the Maui County Council that operations meet standards. The initiative also calls for the establishment of criminal and civil penalties to be adopted and established for the County of Maui.
The lawsuit also comes a day after proponents of the measure filed a lawsuit of their own to assure transparency and proper implementation of the newly passed initiative.
Monsanto Hawaiʻi Business and Technology Lead vice president, John P. Purcell, PhD issued a statement saying, “As a longtime community member, we are proud of our operations and contributions to the islands. With more than 1,000 local employees living and working in Maui, Molokaʻi and Oʻahu, we understand the significant negative consequences this referendum, if enacted, will have on the citizens, local economy, Hawaiʻi agriculture and business on the island.”
He continued saying, “We are confident in the safety of our products and practices, which have been reviewed and approved by both state and federal agencies in accordance with appropriate regulations that already govern our products.”
Purcell said the local referendum “interferes with and conflicts with long established state and federal laws that support both the safety and lawful cultivation of GMO plants.” For this reason, he said, “we believe it is invalid and should never become law.”
Purcell said Monsanto Hawaiʻi has “full confidence” in the merits of its legal claims, and anticipates that “a rational outcome will block the referendum from taking effect.”
Purcell said Monsanto remains firm in its commitment to ongoing dialogue.