GMO initiative flaws create serious concerns

October 28, 2014

People wonder why a temporary ban on GMO farming – until proven safe – is a bad thing. Truth is, it’s not. The bad thing is how poorly the initiative was written. It’s full of flaws that pose a great threat, and though people are worried about genetically modified organisms, they should really be worried about what the initiative will really mean for Maui County.

Where do you stand on the ballot initiative that would impose a moratorium on GMO's on Maui?

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Voters should know that if it passes, the initiative will bring a halt to some agriculture on Maui. People who support the initiative say they want to know if GMO’s are good or bad, but genetically engineered crops have already been deemed safe by expert federal regulatory agencies and other science-based institutions.

“To date, no adverse health effects attributed to genetic engineering have been documented in the human population,” stated the U.S. National Academy of Sciences.

Additionally, “… consuming foods containing ingredients derived from GM crops is no riskier than consuming the same foods containing ingredients from crop plants modified by conventional plant improvement techniques,” stated the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

“GM foods on the international market have passed risk assessments and are not likely to present risks for human health. No effects on human health have been shown as a result of the consumption of such foods by the general population in the countries where they have been approved,” stated the World Health Organization.

“Bioengineered foods have been consumed for close to 20 years, and during that time, no overt consequences on human health have been reported and/or substantiated in the peer-reviewed literature,” stated the American Medical Association.

An anti-initiative campaign points out that there are harsh penalties associated with it. The GMO pollen can be spread by winds, birds and insects, so farmers may unknowingly produce crops that contain genetically modified DNA.

This makes it’s that much more imperative that the moratorium doesn’t get approved. If the moratorium were to be passed, it’s not just the big companies that could be penalized. According to the moratorium section 5, any person or company violating the moratorium could be fined or jailed. Someone who did not intend to grow, raise, cultivate, or test GMO’s could be fined for possession of the organism when they clearly had no control over the presence of GMO’s on their property. According to section 9 of the moratorium, the first violation would result in a $10,000 fine; the second, a $25,000 fine; and the third violation or other subsequent violations, $50,000 and possible criminal prosecution.

Although a temporary ban on GMO farming seems harmless, the initiative is flawed and could have serious impacts on the economy of Maui County.

— Destinee Murray

More importantly, the moratorium would endanger hundreds of local jobs. According to Dr. Paul H. Brewbaker of TZ Economics, said that biotechnology business that work with transgenic seed and crops on Maui employs about  650 people who would be without a job if the initiative passes, which, he says, would create a domino effect on the economy. Families would experience a decrease in income, and the county would lose out on tax revenues that farming operations provide. The county uses the revenues to create and maintain necessities such as roads, irrigation systems, and sewers.

Although a temporary ban on GMO farming seems harmless, the initiative is flawed and could have serious impacts on the economy of Maui County. The initiative is misleading, and it’s important to know the facts before deciding to vote on November 4.

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