Feb 24 A citizens' group on Maui on Monday
launched a petition to allow voters to consider temporarily
suspending production of genetically modified crops (GMOs) on
the Hawaiian island.
The group said its "temporary moratorium initiative" seeks a
suspension until the completion of an environmental and public
health impact study examining the effects of widespread testing
of GMO crops and associated pesticide use.
The step is part of a larger battle brewing in the United
States and other countries between critics who say GMO crops and
associated pesticides contribute to health and environmental
dangers and those who argue the technology is essential to
boosting global food production.
In Maui, groundwater is already significantly contaminated
with pesticides, the citizens group said in a statement on
Monday. The group said they thought rising numbers of birth
defects were connected to GMO-related pesticide use.
To put a GMO moratorium before voters in an election
scheduled for November, the citizens must submit 8,500
registered voters' signatures by March 31.
The Hawaiian islands are a popular testing ground for
biotech crops for many companies due to a favorable year-round
Meanwhile, a coalition of residents on the neighboring
island of Kauai and public interest groups, represented by
consumer and environmental groups the Center for Food Safety
(CFS) and Earthjustice, filed papers in U.S. District Court in
Honolulu, Hawaii to intervene as defendants in a court case
defending a new pesticide disclosure law passed in Kauai.
DuPont, Syngenta and Agrigenetics Inc., a
company affiliated with Dow AgroSciences, which is a unit of Dow
Chemical, and BASF are suing to block the law
that puts limits on pesticide and GMO crop use on Kauai.
The chemical companies claims the Kauai law, which was
passed by island leaders in November, is unconstitutional.
The Kauai bill requires large agricultural companies to
disclose pesticide use and GMO crop plantings while establishing
buffer zones around schools, homes and hospitals.
Residents there have reported numerous health problems they
fear are linked to large amounts of pesticides sprayed over
experimental GMO crops being grown on the island.
The most popular biotech crops are corn and soybeans that
have been genetically altered to make the plants tolerant of
chemical herbicides and resist pest damage. Farmers say using
biotech crops improves production and makes fighting weeds