Last November, Maui voters through a ballot initiative passed a ban on the cultivation of genetically engineered crops.
And now, a federal judge, Susan Mollway, ruled that the ban on genetically modified crops is invalid and unenforceable because it is preempted by state and federal law. The county s ordinance creating the ban exceeded the county s authority, she said.
The county is a major center for research on GM crops due its year-round warm weather. Last fall, Monsanto and Dow AgroSciences spent more than $7 million in attempt to defeat the voter initiative. Both companies have research farms in the county.
"We're listening and we've heard the concerns some people have about GMOs and today's farming practices. Our commitment to ongoing dialogue with our neighbors doesn't stop today," said John Purcell, vice president and Monsanto's lead for business and technology in Hawaii, in a statement.
The SHAKA group who sponsored the ballot initiative is already planning on appealing the order. Mark Sheehan, who is a member of the SHAKA movement, argued that the ordinance was specifically written to address issues not found in state or federal law. He also argues the county has the responsibility to protect the health of the environment and the public.
However, the overwhelming majority of scientists argue that GM foods are safe. There is no reputable, peer-reviewed research opposing GM foods the World Health Organization, the American Medical Association and many other leading scientific bodies in the world have declared GMOs safe as a result of almost 2000 studies.
For more information on the science behind GMOs, see ACSH s publication Food and You: A Guide to Modern Agricultural Biotechnology.