Kahului, Hawaii (PRWEB) February 27, 2014
Five Maui County citizens are going toe-to-toe with Hawaii’s mammoth agricultural biotech industry with the submission of a new ordinance, written by the people, for the people and voted on by the people, as a ballot initiative in the 2014 November general elections.
This first-of-it’s-kind on Maui citizens’ initiative calls for a temporary moratorium of all genetic engineering (GE) operations within Maui County until the Biotech companies finance a detailed Environmental and Public Health Impacts Study (EPHIS), administered by the county, showing current scientific data and proof that open air experimentation of GE crops and associated mixed pesticide use is not harmful to people and the land.
Over 500 people attended a petition drive kick-off event on Monday, Feb 24th. More than 200 people registered to collect signatures and left with petitions in hand, excited to meet the deadline for collecting 8500 registered Maui County voters’ signatures by March 31st.
The five citizens, Mark Sheehan Ph.D., (environmentalist and health advocate) Lorrin Pang M.D., MPH (consultant to the World Health Organization since 1985, selected as one of America's Best Doctors – top 3%) Lei’ohu Ryder (Spiritual Kumu), Alika Atay (indigenous Hawaiian natural farmer and Hawaiian Spiritual Leader), and Dr. Bonnie Marsh N.D., (Naturopathic Doctor) all spoke of their concerns for the land, the health and well being of all of Maui County’s residents, and particularly it’s children. The evening concluded with a presentation from world-renowned GMO, Roundup and biological weapons expert, Retired Coronel, Dr. Don Huber.
The event was coordinated by the SHAKA Movement (Sustainable Hawaiian Agriculture for the Keiki (children) and the ‘Aina (land)), an advocacy, communications and information hub in Hawaii. http://www.ShakaMovement.org
The five citizens assert that the multiple crops each year of Genetically Engineered (GE) seed, other GMO experimentation and chemical cocktails (multiple pesticides applied in combination or in sequence) in Maui County differ significantly from the GE food farming occurring elsewhere in the world, and pose unique risks that have not been studied and are not adequately monitored by county, state or federal agencies. (http://www.centerforfoodsafety.org/files/cfs-bill-2491-written-testimony--7-15-13_24101.pdf For an ordinance to amend the Kaua’i County code 1987 relating to pesticides and genetically modified organisms. July 2013)
(http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0042768 A Preliminary Investigation into the Impact of a Pesticide Combination on Human Neuronal and Glial Cell Lines In Vitro, August 03, 2012)
Mark Sheehan said, “The citizens of Maui County have serious concerns as to whether the GE seed operations, open-field mixing of pesticide cocktails, and GE crop experimentation occurring in Maui County are causing irreparable harm to the people, the environment, and public trust resources.”
(http://www.beyondpesticides.org/infoservices/pesticidesandyou/Winter%2003-04/Synergy.pdf Synergy: The Big Unknowns of Pesticide Exposure 2004)
Hawai’i is the only US state who’s constitution stipulates that the land, water, air and other the Public Trust Resources have rights unto themselves and must be defended from harm and “…shall be conserved and protected for current and future generations.”
Lobbyists for the agro-chemical industry are actively working against GMO regulations and are aggressively pushing state legislators to pre-empt and strip local counties of their right to regulate GMO and biotech industries on the local level.
“Right now there's a big movement by the industry, the state and the feds to preempt us, trying to say that we cannot be more precautionary.” said Dr. Pang, “That goes against the basic principles of Precaution.“
“The Precautionary Principle says each lower level of government has the right to be more precautionary than the levels above them. You can’t preempt a local government from being more precautionary.” said Dr. Pang, “If the federal regulators are not going to regulate for us, then the state has a right to do it. If the state is not going to regulate for us, then each county has the right to do it.”
“More and more information is coming out about the risks of pesticide exposure, especially to children.” Sheehan continued. “A November 2012 report by the American Academy of Pediatrics, cited ‘growing evidence that developing fetuses and children are particularly vulnerable to pesticides.’” (http://www.aap.org/en-us/about-the-aap/aap-press-room/pages/AAP-Makes-Recommendations-to-Reduce-Children's-Exposure-to-Pesticides.aspx).
“At least 50 doctors, nurses and health professionals testified to their concerns of pesticide exposure at recent public hearings on Kauai, citing specific and rare birth defects, some that may be occurring at a rate 10 times above the national average.” says Sheehan.
Sample Medical Testimony - Kaua'i Doctors Oct, 2013.)
“This throws the safety of all GE operations into question, which brings the ‘Precautionary Principle’ to bear.” says Sheehan, “Our moratorium shifts the burden of proof back to the Agro-Chemical companies. They have to stop their potentially risky practices until they publicly share whatever current research they may have that scientifically proves what they are doing in Maui County is not harmful to current and future generations.”
Areas of Maui’s groundwater are already significantly contaminated with pesticides, including DBCP and TCP, from former conventional pineapple growing operations.
(https://info.ngwa.org/GWOL/pdf/872944335.PDF “DBCP, EDB and TCP Contamination of Ground Water in Hawaii” Nov 1987. )
In 1999 Maui County successfully sued the companies who made and used the chemicals that polluted Maui’s groundwater. They agreed to pay the majority of costs for 30 years to filter pesticides from polluted aquifers. (http://www.co.maui.hi.us/documents/22/DBCPsettlement.PDF Settlement Agreement and Release of All Claims, Sept 1999)
“Based on our previous experience with pesticide companies poisoning of our aquifers we’re very concerned with what’s happening with GE operations in Maui County. Biotech practices here involve unprecedented use and experimental mixing of pesticides, none of which have been tested together, nor in concert with what’s already in the ground’ says Sheehan. (http://ecowatch.com/2014/02/26/petition-launched-to-halt-gmo-production-pesticide-use-in-hawaii/ Petition Launched to Halt GMO Production, Pesticide Use in Hawaii Feb 2014)
“I’m very concerned for the combinations because each new combination could have stunning effects”, Says Dr. Pang, “The minute you combine them, all hell can break loose.” (http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/vaop/ncurrent/full/nature11585.html Combined pesticide exposure severely affects individual- and colony-level traits in bees, Apr 2012)
The five citizens maintain that the Hawai’i Dept. of Agriculture does not have an adequate regulatory structure in place to monitor GE crops or to aid in understanding the impacts that experimental and seed crops have on Maui’s environment, public health, economy or cultural heritage.
“The land and waters surrounding Maui County have cultural and spiritual significance in Hawaiian traditions.”, says Sheehan, “This heritage would suffer irreparable harm if the natural environment of Maui County was contaminated by GE practices.”
“Another concern,” says Sheehan, “is that there are no known or proven scientific methodologies or procedures to recall GE organisms or decontaminate the environment from any damages once GE organisms are released and contamination has occurred. One example is the uncontrollable invasion of GMO papaya across the island of Hawai’i. With no way to stop it, after just a few years, GMO papaya is well on its way to eradicating all Non-GMO varieties.”
“Hawaii’s remote location,” adds Sheehan, “has long been seen as a bonus from the risk assessment perspective of GMO experimentation. If an environmental catastrophe occurs here there’s some chance of it being sequestered from the rest of the world.”
“If you really step back it may look like we’re just a big experiment, a big research lab to experiment with - effecting people,” asserts Alika Atay, “so it’s questionable, are we being sacrificed?”