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Monsanto responds to Maui County GMO ban

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    In this photo taken Sept. 10, 2014, Monsanto crew members Gerard Manuel, left, and Rommel Angale, right, counted corn sprouts in a field of test hybrids in a breeding nursery near Kihei.

Monsanto Hawaii, which owns or leases 3,100 acres on Maui and Molokai, and employs about 540 people, including part-time or seasonal workers, says it plans to challenge in court a Maui charter initiative approved by votes Tuesday that temporarily bans genetically engineered crops.

About 50.2 percent of voters — the minimum needed to pass the initiative — voted in favor, while 47.9 percent voted against. 

In a statement, John P. Purcell, vice president of Monsanto Hawaii Business, said it believes the referendum is “invalid and contrary to long established state and federal laws that support both the safety and lawful testing and planting of GMO plants.

He added that “the referendum will have significant negative consequences for the local economy, Hawaii agriculture and our business on the island.”

Purcell said Monsanto believes the initiative is” legally flawed and cannot be enforced.”

He said Monsanto is “confident in the safety of our products and our practices that have been reviewed and approved by federal and state agencies.”

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