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SHAKA Files Appeal Over Delayed Maui Moratorium on GMO Operations

SHAKA Movement rally and petition signing, May 27, 2014.  Photo by Wendy Osher. [1]

SHAKA Movement rally and petition signing, File photo May 27, 2014. Photo by Wendy Osher.

By Wendy Osher

The SHAKA Movement on Maui filed an appeal with the Ninth Circuit Court, seeking an evidentiary hearing before continuing an injunction that delays the implementation of the Maui GMO moratorium.

The group filed their opening brief with the court on April 30, 2015, in which they argue that the “District Court abused its discretion” when it agreed to continue the injunction that was entered into by an agreement between Monsanto, Dow, and the County of Maui.

The document further claims that the District Court denied SHAKA’s request for an evidentiary hearing and limited SHAKA’s opposition to a 2,500 word brief that was due within three days.

Mark Sheehan, one of five Maui County residents who are named in the lawsuit, spoke on behalf of the citizen group saying, “The ordinance we enacted needs to be enforced immediately. We hope the Ninth Circuit will uphold Hawaii voting rights and respect our need for a healthy environment.”

The other members of the group include Dr. Lorrin Pang, Leiʻohu Ryder, Bonnie March and Alika Atay.

John Purcell, Hawaiʻi Technology & Business Lead for Monsanto responded to our request for comment saying, “We respect SHAKA’s right to appeal the injunction, however we are confident our legal arguments are formidable and will prevail since they are based on established legal precedent.”

Maui County Communications Director Rod Antone also responded to our request saying the “County has no comment on the pending litigation.”

On Nov. 4, 2014, Maui voters approved a voter initiative to temporarily suspend the growth, testing, or cultivation of genetically engineered crops in Maui until an environmental and public health study can show that they are safe.

The group notes that the opposition spent $7.9 million on the campaign, the most money that has ever been expended on a local initiative in the State of Hawaiʻi.

Michael C. Carroll, legal counsel for Plaintiffs notes that the moratorium has not been implemented based on an injunction that was originally entered into by agreement between Monsanto, Dow, and the County of Maui, which has now been extended until the District Court rules on the merit.  This injunction, he said, will remain in place unless the Ninth Circuit reverses the District Court.