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Maui Council Candidates Reveal GMO Stance at Business Fest

Council candidates participating in a forum at the Maui Native Hawaiian Chamber of Commerce 2014 Business Fest answer questions including their stance on the proposed GMO moratorium.  (Left to right) Don Guzman, Mike Victorino, Riki Hokama and Courtney Bruch. Photo by Wendy Osher. [1]

Council candidates participating in a forum at the Maui Native Hawaiian Chamber of Commerce 2014 Business Fest answer questions including their stance on the proposed GMO moratorium. (Left to right) Don Guzman, Mike Victorino, G Riki Hokama and Courtney Bruch. Photo by Wendy Osher.

By Wendy Osher

Maui county council candidates clarified their stance on the proposed GMO moratorium during a candidate forum hosted by the Maui Native Hawaiian Chamber of Commerce during their 2014 Business Fest.

A total of 16 candidates participated in the forum held Thursday afternoon at the Grand Wailea resort in South Maui.

There were a total of four candidates who said they would be supporting the initiative that seeks a moratorium on genetically engineered organisms in Maui County, including a single member of the current county council.

Candidates voicing support for GMO initiative. Courtney Bruch (top left), Elle Cochran (top right), Nik Nikhilananda (bottom left), John Fitzpatrick (bottom right). Photos by Wendy Osher. [2]

Candidates voicing support for GMO initiative. Courtney Bruch (top left), Elle Cochran (top right), Nick Nikhilananda (bottom left), John Fitzpatrick (bottom right). Photos by Wendy Osher.

The list of moratorium supporters includes:

Mike White (left) and Don Guzman (right). Photos by Wendy Osher. [3]

Mike White (left) and Don Guzman (right). Photos by Wendy Osher.

Two candidates, Don Guzman and Mike White did not give a yes or no answer, but chose instead to leave the decision making to the voters as the question will appear on the November general election ballot.

Candidates voicing opposition to GMO initiative. Top row (l to r): Mike Victorino, Joe Pontanilla, Stacy Crivello. Middle row: Gladys Baisa, Don Couch, Mike Molina, Joe Blackburn.  Bottom row: Robert Carroll, G Riki Hokama, and Kaʻala Buenconsejo. Photos by Wendy Osher. [4]

Candidates voicing opposition to GMO initiative. Top row (l to r): Mike Victorino, Joe Pontanilla, Stacy Crivello. Middle row: Gladys Baisa, Don Couch, Mike Molina, Joe Blackburn. Bottom row: Robert Carroll, G Riki Hokama, and Kaʻala Buenconsejo. Photos by Wendy Osher.

The remaining 10 candidates said they could not support the legislation as written, with many claiming the language of the measure is flawed and would result in a legal challenge that would cost taxpayers more money.

As currently written, the ballot question reads as follows:  Maui: Voter Initiative, Genetically Engineered Organisms: Should the proposed initiative prohibiting the cultivation or reproduction of genetically engineered organisms within the County of Maui, which may be amended or repealed as to a specific person or entity when required environmental and public health impact studies, public hearings, a two thirds vote and a determination by the County Council that such operation or practice meets certain standards, and which establishes civil and criminal penalties, be adopted for Maui County?

The item will appear on the November 4, general election ballot for Maui County voters.