By Wendy Osher
Maui voters have approved an initiative that places a moratorium on GMO cultivation in Maui County.
A total of 23,082 people voted YES in favor of the moratorium, representing 50.2% of the vote, while 22,005 people (487.9%) voted against the measure.
Just 1,077 votes separated the two sides in the final printout, which was released at around 1:30 a.m. on Wednesday, Nov.5, 2014.
Earlier in the evening, the “no” votes were ahead after the first printout when 11,370 voters from the absentee and walk-in counts voted against the initiative for a 58.4% vote, compared to the 7,655 (39.3%) early votes counted in favor of the initiative.
When the second printout was released, which included 13 of 34 precincts, the “no” votes were still in the lead, but by a slimmer margin with 14,889 (54.4%) “no” votes and 11,906 (43.5%) “yes” votes.
By the third printout at around 10 p.m., the tides had turned in favor of the initiative supporters with 22,647 (50%) in support of the moratorium and 21,807 (48.1%) against.
The initiative 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.
All sitting Maui County Council members with the exception of Elle Cochran  have indicated that they would be voting against the moratorium during a pre-election forum hosted by the Maui Native Hawaiian Chamber of Commerce.
Pro-GMO groups have claimed the initiative would jeopardize agricultural jobs  and the livelihood of others who do business with Hawaiʻi seed companies. They also claimed the measure is poorly written and would be costly to taxpayers .
Anti-GMO groups  had gathered more than 9,000 valid signatures  from the public in support of the moratorium. In an earlier statement the SHAKA group claimed GMO farming operations make up only 1% of the nearly 900 registered farms on Maui, and that no family farmers will be affected by the moratorium.
MAUI: Voter Initiative: Genetically Engineered Organisms – 34 out of 34 precincts reporting
YES: 23,082 50.2%
NO: 22,005 47.9%
Blank: 872 1.9%
Over: 24 0.1%