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Maui group wins ability to intervene in GMO case

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    Monsanto worker Zenaida Arcala placed a pollination bag over a corn tassel in Kihei
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The authors of a new Maui law banning the cultivation of genetically modified organisms won standing on Monday to intervene in a federal lawsuit challenging the measure.

Michael Carroll, an attorney for the group SHAKA Movement, said Magistrate Judge Barry Kurren’s ruling will allow his clients to file their own motions and to respond to motions filed by the plaintiffs.

The case involves a lawsuit filed last month against Maui County by Monsanto Co. and a unit of Dow Chemical Co.

Kurren earlier this year ruled Kauai and Hawaii county laws regulating GMO crops were invalid because the state, not the counties, had jurisdiction over the issue. The plaintiffs in the Maui case were hoping Kurren would rule similarly on their case.

But shortly after his ruling Monday, Kurren reassigned the Maui case to Chief Judge Susan Oki Mollway.

That’s because the plaintiffs and defendants had agreed earlier to allow a magistrate judge to try the case, but SHAKA Movement, the new party, didn’t.

Maui voters created the law by approving a ballot initiative on Nov. 4.

The measure imposes a moratorium on the growing of genetically engineered crops until scientific studies are conducted on their safety and benefits. The moratorium would be lifted only after a vote by the Maui County Council.

Kurren last month ruled the county couldn’t implement the law until he considered the lawsuit.

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