Over 11,000 signatures gathered for moratorium on GMO companies

By Lara Yamada
Published On: Apr 07 2014 07:04:21 PM HST
Updated On: Apr 08 2014 06:36:17 AM HST

The "Big Dogs" are out in Maui County in the fight over Genetically Modified Crops. KITV4's Lara Yamada has more on the petition that could stop it all.

HONOLULU -

Bio-tech Company Monsanto has been the prime target for those against GMOs for years, and now a petition drive could result in a moratorium on the company as well as other bio-tech companies on Maui.

But this time, Monsanto is publicly fighting back.

"We are here to provide information about the safety of our products and practices," said Monsanto organizers in front of the Maui County Building.

With messages on signs, hats, shirts and more, Monsanto workers packed the lawn, cheering for bio-tech; for the jobs it provides and the food it creates.

"I think the initiative will threaten not only agriculture, but a lot of great jobs for the people of Maui," said Monsanto employee Lowella Oasay.

Through a series of pre-recorded clips and an unusually aggressive PR campaign, leading bio-tech company Monsanto employees laid out their case for Genetically Modified Crops in Hawaii and around the world.

"We don't discriminate and I don't think anybody else should either," said Monsanto Hawaii Land & Resources manager Dan Clegg.

Top Monsanto employees say they dropped off stacks research, showing their work is safe, but on Monday, came a stack of petitions, more than 10,000 in all, to put Monsanto's work on Maui to a vote.

"It's telling me that people are gravely concerned," said Mark Sheehan about the signatures collected.

He's part of the group Shaka Movement that is collecting enough votes to put an initiative on the ballot this fall that would put a moratorium on GMO crops, until he said, Biotech companies prove genetically modified crops are safe.

"The manufactures can prove us that these pesticides are safe and not putting our citizens at risk," he said.

Maui County councilwoman Ellie Cochran said she needs to see more transparency, not just documents, before she can offer her support to bio-tech companies.

"That's not enough. There needs to be a definite sound disclosure. (The bio-tech companies) need to notify and let people know what it is they are doing," she said.

Once the county verifies that at least 10,000 of the signatures on Shaka Movement's petition are legitimate, the initiative can be added to the November ballot. 

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