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Hawaii News

Anti-GMO measure allowed on Maui ballot

    Organic farmers are asking voters in Jackon and Josephine counties to adopt a ban on cultivating genetically engineered crops

WAILUKU >> A judge’s ruling allows Maui County to print ballots that ask voters about a proposed moratorium on genetically engineered crops.

Monday’s decision dissolves a temporary restraining order after those who support genetically modified organisms sued to remove the measure. They argued its wording was deceptive, misleading and would confuse voters.

The county filed to dissolve the order, which had prevented preparing ballots. Some ballots, including those for military members, have to be mailed this week, the Maui News reported.

Tom Blackburn-Rodri­guez, spokes­man for one of the plaintiffs, Citizens Against the Maui County Farming Ban, said they would consult with their attorney to analyze the ruling.

Anti-GMO group Sustainable Hawaiian Agriculture for the Keiki and the Aina Movement said they are pleased with the decision. The group, known as the SHAKA Movement, gathered 19,000 signatures to put the measure on the Nov. 4 ballot.

“The judge clearly understands that Maui’s first-ever successful citizens’ initiative should not be blocked by a well-funded corporate campaign designed to thwart the demo­cratic process,” the group said in a statement.

Maui Circuit Judge Rhonda Loo on Monday also granted a request by SHAKA to intervene in the case.

The proposed moratorium would make it illegal to cultivate, grow or test genetically modified crops in Maui County until companies complete environmental and public health studies to show their practices are safe.

Two companies that grow genetically modified crops in the county have said hundreds of people would lose their jobs on Maui and Molo­kai if the measure passes.

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