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Judge Orders Hold on GE Enforcement

A federal judge in Honolulu has ordered a temporary hold on enforcement of the moratorium on genetically engineered crops passed by Maui County voters on Nov. 4. Last week, Monsanto and other parties filed a lawsuit against the County of Maui, challenging the moratorium. Judge Barry Kurren granted Monsanto and other plaintiffs in the suit a temporary injunction until Dec. 5.

The county stated last week it was preparing to enforce the moratorium pending the Election Officer’s certification of election results, but the judge’s injunction will put a hold on enforcement until further court action.

Injunction is a court order for a party to do, or refrain from doing, specific acts. In this case, it refers to preventing the County of Maui from carrying out enforcement of the GE ordinance.

Monsanto and other businesses operating on Molokai, including Mycogen, Friendly Isle Auto Parts, Molokai Chamber of Commerce, Makoa Trucking and Hikiola Cooperative, filed the suit against the County of Maui last Thursday.

The lawsuit stated that the moratorium will cause “immediate and traumatic harm to the local economy, and to many individuals who rely on GE crops to support themselves and their families.” It also cites irreparable harm to the seed companies, which have invested millions of dollars in facilities on Maui and Molokai.

The lawsuit argues that the ordinance violates federal, state and local law, and is “directly at odds with decades of settled science and more than 100 federal agency expert scientific determinations.”

Mycogen Seeds farms about 420 acres on Molokai, while Monsanto owns or leases 784 acres on Maui and 2,294 acres of farmland on Molokai, according to the suit.

“A significant percentage of corn seed planted in the U.S. have originated from Monsanto’s facilities in the County,” states the suit.

Friendly Isle Auto Parts claims in the suit it obtains 35 to 40 percent of its sales from GE companies or their employees, while Makoa Trucking states 30 percent of its business is from the GE industry. Hikiola Cooperative claims in the suit that the two seed companies account for about 50 percent of its business.

Another plaintiff in the case is a group called Concerned Citizens of Molokai and Maui, an organization of more than 300 Molokai and Maui residents. Most have spent their entire working lives with Monsanto and are not well-trained or prepared to change industries, the suit claims. It states that the ordinance would cause substantial harm to these individuals, and if the GE moratorium takes effect, almost all would lose their jobs.

Meanwhile, a group of five Maui residents involved in the SHAKA Movement which led the Maui County initiative process, also filed a lawsuit against Maui County last week seeking to ensure that the ordinance will be carried out.

One day before Monsanto and fellow plaintiffs sued the county, Dr. Lorrin Pang, Mark Sheehan, Lei’ohu Ryder, Bonnie Marsh and Alika Atay filed a lawsuit Wednesday in state court against the county, Monsanto and Dow AgroSciences. The suit states they want to ensure the GE moratorium is implanted in a timely and proper manner, resolve claims that the ordinance is not enforceable, and be included in the implementation of the moratorium.

 

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