Countless Maui residents are going door to door in an attempt to convince fellow voters to ban the cultivation of genetically engineered crops believed to be highly dangerous. At the same time, a group supported by the companies cultivating these crops counters such urges with ads playing on what they call “a farming ban”.
Experts believe that the struggle of 160,000 middle Pacific Ocean residents isn’t isolated as it could simply ripple across the nation. The dueling campaigns over the 4th of November ballot measure attempting to prohibit the cultivation of genetically modified crops until studies prove beyond a doubt that they are safe for human consumption. Some farmers fear that the nation’s largest crop producers could end up altering research so that their new varieties of genetically engineered seeds reach the public either way.
Chairman of the agronomy department at Iowa State University, Kendall Lamkey, believes that the initiative could result in an increase in price for seed development if passed.
“It’s not going to stop it but it will slow it down,[companies] adapt. I mean, there will probably be workarounds for this that may or may not cost more money and may or may not raise the cost of goods to our farmers.”
he said in a statement.
In all fairness, around 90 percent of all corn currently grown in the United States is genetically engineered, and has been partially developed at Hawaii farms. Until now, there hasn’t been much scientific evidence to suggest that foods grown from genetically modified seeds would be less safe than non-GMO products, however fears continue to exist not only in Hawaii.
Apart from the worries connected to GMO-crops, Hawaii residents are also in fear of pesticide use by companies. According to Mark Sheehan, leader of the anti-GMO group behind the ban, all corporations want is to:
“come in here and run our island as a chemical experiment where they ship out the profits and we have to deal with the pollutants.”
And passions are strong in both camps.
Sheehan went on to explain that the Sustainable Hawaiian Agriculture for the Keiki and the Aina Movement (or Shaka Movement) has also been holding community meetings where about 30 mothers volunteered to go door-to-door in Kihei and spread the word.
“I think about 600 doors a day, they’re knocking on. These are not paid employees,”
Companies wanting to conduct their research in Hawaii do so because of the warm weather in the islands all-year-around, which permits them to grow three to four crops yearly instead of just one.