“Maui Outgrow Monsanto” Event Draws 200 Participants
By Maui Now Staff
While communities around the world participated in “March Against Monsanto” events, GMO Free Maui and Simpmli Fresh Farms hosted a special “Outgrow Monsanto” community food planting event on Saturday, May 24, 2015 in West Maui.
Event organizers say 200 people planted 100 coconut trees and over 2 acres of taro, sweet potato and yams, as a statement that “the community can and will feed itself without Monsanto.”
“Monsanto’s business model depends on selling the public the idea that there is a food shortage, and that we cannot make enough food to feed ourselves without GMO’s or poisonous chemicals. That’s simply not true, and we are proving it. Maui and the rest of the world will Outgrow Monsanto and their dangerous practices.” said Autumn Ness of GMO Free Maui in a statement.
“Maui is getting serious about feeding ourselves. Monsanto’s slogan is that they feed the world. They forgot one word: well. On Maui, we want to grow nutritious, chemical-free food to feed ourselves well. And we are doing it.” said Alika Atay, a farmer and one of the five SHAKA Movement individuals who led an initiative for a GMO moratorium in Maui County.
“We want people to continue to support local, organic, non gmo food. The healthiest food isn’t the stuff in the best looking packaging on the shelf. It’s real food, with little imperfections, that comes from real farmers living in your community,” said James Simpliciano of Simpli Fresh Farms.
He continued saying, “We invite the community to keep coming back to our farm to plant and harvest. You can also visit our farm stand on Lahainaluna Road, just above the bypass entrance on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays from 3 to 6 p.m. The farm stand supports our Farmer’s Apprentice Mentoring Program,” he said.
Volunteers enjoyed live music while they worked in the field. Musicians Neil Young, Darryl Hannah, and Lukas & Mika Nelson made an appearance at the event. They helped plant sweet potatoes and an ulu tree, before playing a song off of their new album titled “The Monsanto Years.”
Neil Young and Promise of the Real also played a surprise concert at Charley’s in Pāʻia on Saturday night, in solidarity with the worldwide “March Against Monsanto.”
Representatives with Monsanto Hawaiʻi on Maui responded to the event announcement saying, “We know that people have different points of view, and Monsanto Hawaiʻi is committed to having an open dialogue about food and agriculture – we’re proud of the work we do, and we’re eager for people to know more about us.”
Carol Reimann, community affairs manager for Monsanto on Maui continued saying, “We’re also proud of our collaboration with farmers and partnering organizations that support agriculture and help make a more balanced meal accessible for everyone. Our goal is to help farmers do this in a more sustainable way using fewer resources and having a smaller impact on the environment.”
Monsanto representatives maintain assertions that food safety is a top priority. In an email communication with Maui Now, Monsanto’s Reimann said, “As consumers ourselves, we care about the quality and safety of the food we eat, and we’re committed to developing products that contribute to safe and nutritious food choices… we conduct rigorous and comprehensive testing on each and every one of our products. In fact, GM seeds have been tested more than any other seeds in the history of agriculture – with no evidence of harm to humans or animals. Regulatory agencies, scientific organizations and leading health associations worldwide agree that GM foods are just as safe as any other food.”