Puunene resident Mary Whispering Wind protests genetically modified organisms in food Monday in Kihei. The protest was hosted by Occupy Wall Street Maui and GMO Free Maui and drew about 100 people to the rally. BRUCE DOUGLAS photo
A sign-waving rally was held Monday afternoon at the intersection of Piilani and Mokulele highways to mark the one-year anniversary of the Occupy Wall Street movement and to show solidarity with the “Occupy Monsanto Global Protests” worldwide, according to an announcement.
The event was hosted by Occupy Wall Street Maui and GMO Free Maui. (GMO refers to genetically modified organisms.)
Occupy Monsanto rallies also were held on Molokai, Kauai, Oahu and the Big Island, said organizers, who put the number of people taking part in the Maui rally at more than 100.
The group said its aim was to “bring awareness to the growing concern of unlabeled GMOs in our food supply.”
“Hawaii is the world’s capital for open air genetic crop experimentation, and GMO seed corn is our largest agricultural seed crop,” the group said. “There is growing concern about agricultural chemicals, such as Roundup, affecting our reefs and water supply.”
In response, Monsanto Co. Hawaii Community Affairs Manager Alan Takemoto said: “Monsanto has been recognized here in Hawaii and elsewhere for our high standards of quality, robust safety programs and strong commitment to environmental stewardship. We’re dedicated to improving modern agriculture through advanced technologies and committed to offering the best products that farmers depend on to increase their production and yields.”
Takemoto said the company’s goal is to use “cutting-edge research to help find solutions to some of the planet’s most pressing problems, such as global food security.”
In Hawaii, Monsanto employs about 1,000 people, he said.
“Our soil and water conservation efforts are governed by an approved natural resources conservation plan that was developed in consultation with the (U.S. Department of Agriculture’s) Natural Resources Conservation Service, and we use an integrated pest management program as part of our commitment to environmental stewardship,” he said.
Takemoto added that Monsanto is committed to “transparency and dialogue.”
“We understand that people have questions, and we welcome open, respectful dialogue with anyone genuinely interested in learning more about who we are and what we do,” he said.
On this week’s Maui County Council meeting agenda, Council Member Elle Cochran has proposed a resolution to include in Maui County’s legislative package a bill for the state Legislature that would require the labeling of genetically engineered food products. There’s also a proposed bill to label GMO products as part of the Hawaii State Association of Counties’ legislative package of bills.
The council meeting begins at 9 a.m. Friday in the eighth-floor Council Chambers of the Kalana O Maui building.
The Maui News