The Office of the County Clerk has certified that the SHAKA Movement has collected the required number of additional valid signatures needed to advance a petition to place a moratorium on the cultivation of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) to the Maui County Council, Maui County Clerk Danny Mateo announced on Friday, June 6.
The SHAKA Movement submitted a supplemental petition on May 27 that contained 9,626 signatures. The County Clerk's office reviewed the submission and determined that 4,342 valid, registered voters in the County of Maui signed the petition, while 5,284 signatures were deemed invalid.
With a prior certification from the County Clerk last month, the SHAKA Movement collected a total of 9,062 valid signatures, Mateo said. Twenty percent of the total number of voters who cast ballots in the last mayoral general election, or 8,465 registered voters, were required to sign the petition to have it formally submitted to the County Council.
The Maui County Clerk’s office has verified that 9,062 valid petition signatures were collected by the SHAKA Movement and submitted by five Maui County citizens: (left to right) Naturopathic Doctor Bonnie March, environmentalist and health advocate Mark Sheehan, Kumu Lei‘ohu Ryder and Hawaiian natural farmer and spiritual leader Alika Atay. Not pictured is Dr. Lorrin Pang, Maui County District Health officer, who submitted the petition as a private citizen.
The signature drive makes the enactment of a GMO moratorium ordinance Maui County's first-ever, successful citizens' ballot initiative.
According to the Maui County Charter, the council will now have 60 days to act on the proposed ordinance. If the council does not adopt the ordinance within 60 days, it will be placed on the 2014 General Election ballot for consideration by the electorate.
"The initiative asks to suspend all GMO activity in Maui County until all genetically engineered agrochemical practices have been proven non-harmful to people and the environment, "said Mark Sheehan, one of the ordinance's five citizen sponsors. "This overwhelmingly positive response reveals how very concerned our community is about the potential health risks from exposure to the world's largest concentration of open-field GMO and combined pesticide experiments."
"The Constitution of the State of Hawai'i makes it clear that we have a right to know what is harmful and a right to decide what happens to our land and our health," said Bruce Douglas, a spokesperson for the SHAKA Movement. "It is not only a right, but the state constitution makes it our responsibility. The citizens supporting the movement are exercising their constitutional right to uphold the constitution. Anyone against such 'rights' is simply in an argument with the constitution, not the movement. The movement is simply upholding the constitution."
The Public Trust Doctrine in the Hawai'i State Constitution, (Article 11, Section 1-11) states that all Public Trust Resources must be preserved and protected for current and future generations.
"If in doubt, it is our responsibility to exercise the precautionary principle," said Maui County District Health Officer Dr Lorrin Pang, speaking as a private citizen. "The GMO moratorium asks for a health study to be conducted before releasing untested new life forms into the environment. I am also very concerned about the 80-plus chemicals that are being sprayed on GMO fields and that create chemical cocktails with literally billions of possible combinations, which no safety studies have been done for. This is a potential formula for disaster."
"It's pretty simple," said Joe Marshalla, a SHAKA Movement volunteer. "If you're absolutely sure that everything is perfectly safe, then vote against it. But, if you have any doubt whatsoever that what's happening could be harmful to the land and the people, then vote to make sure that all possible testing is done right here in our county until everyone is satisfied that we are safe."
"We have no control over what's going on," said Dennis "Bumpy" Pu'uhonua Kanahele, head of Sstate of the Nation of Hawai'i, in a recent interview. "In our culture and our tradition, there's no room for anything that doesn't belong to nature. I want everyone to know that I support the SHAKA Movement. Vote for the moratorium and support this effort."
In response to the announcement about the successful petition drive, Maui County Farm Bureau Executive Director Warren Watanabe and Molokai Farm Bureau President Ray Foster said that both organizations strongly oppose the initiative.
"It's an anti-agriculture measure that jeopardizes hundreds of good ag jobs on Maui and Molokai, as well as the livelihoods of many others who do business with the Hawai'i seed companies or benefit from their presence in Maui County," they said in a press release. "Should this initiative pass, the consequences for local families and Maui County's economy would be devastating."
"This misguided initiative would have terrible consequences for the people and economy of Maui and Molokai," said Monsanto Hawai'i Community & Government Affairs Manager Carol Reimann. "As ag workers ourselves, we agree with fellow farmers and community members--if passed, this initiative would harm hundreds of ag workers, their families and other businesses who support and rely on the ag industry."