So by now most everyone on the island knows that Monsanto–a giant corporation that says it cares about feeding the world but is far more concerned about profits and market share–has spent more than $6 million to try to defeat the upcoming Maui County ballot measure that would slap a “moratorium” on all genetically modified crops. Together with Dow, their “Citizens Against The Maui County Farming Ban” has spent nearly $8 million against the initiative–more money than former Governor Linda Lingle spent to guarantee her 2006 reelection.
That money went all over the place–something we know for a fact because we got a tiny portion of it in the form of a political ad running in this week’s print edition (we’re also running print ads from pro-initiative groups). And it’s the best indicator that Monsanto will use however much of its considerable financial muscle to dominate what’s otherwise a small-town ballot race (pro-measure groups are spending just a tiny fraction of what big agri-business has so far dropped).
Which brings us to why we actually oppose the GMO initiative. Without a doubt, this is the most difficult ballot endorsement we’ve ever had to do. To side with Monsanto–just another example of a big Mainland interest controlling a substantial swath of the island–seems anathema to the paper’s founding principles. And yet, here we are. Believe us, we’d like nothing more than to dismantle corporations like Monsanto. Their size and power represent everything that’s wrong with capitalism.
But ballot measures based on junk science and ignorance aren’t the way to do it. After a few decades of rigorous scientific analyses, we can say that genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are safe for human consumption (click here for a great Popular Science writeup on this). As for the argument that GMO production uses pesticides that are harmful to the environment and humanity–that’s a side issue.
If you want to ban certain pesticides (and research has concluded that they are indeed poisoning our near-shore reefs) then craft a ballot measure that does that. Attacking genetically engineered food isn’t the way to go.
Photo: Revised by Reworked/Wikimedia Commons