Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Hawaii has become ground zero for the battle over GMOs. (Photo courtesy of Shutterstock)

Fight Continues Over Moratorium of GMO Crops on Hawaii’s Big Island

Nicole D’Alessandro

 by EcoWatch

On Aug. 1 Center for Food Safety (CFS), Earthjustice and local farmers filed a motion to intervene in a lawsuit to defend the County of Hawaii’s Ordinance 13-121, which places a moratorium on expanding GE crops on the Big Island and regulates the organisms to prevent harm from associated pesticide use and the contamination of non-GE crops.

“Hawaii County, like every county, has the right to protect its farmers and native environments from genetically engineered crops,” said George Kimbrell, CFS senior attorney. “Having GE-free zones is critical for the sustainable future of U.S. agriculture, and to protect Hawaii’s unique ecosystems.”

The lawsuit is driven largely by the Biotechnology Industry Organization, the trade association representing companies like Monsanto. It aims to open up the island for expansion of GE crop production by rolling back the 2013 ordinance. Due to Hawaii’s climate, it has become a world center for experimental GE seed production.

“Hawaii is one of the most biologically diverse, as well as spectacularly beautiful, places in the world, but the chemical companies have been turning the islands into experimental laboratories, unleashing a fountain of pesticides and genetically engineered material into the air, land and waters,” said Paul Achitoff, Earthjustice managing attorney based in Honolulu.“We stand with the people of Hawaii Island who are trying to protect their island from being transformed into another toxic waste dump.”

The Big Island is not the only Hawaiian island facing such legal battles. Kaua’i was sued by three big agrochemical companies in January to block Kaua’i County’s genetically modified organism (GMO) regulatory law. Hawaii has become ground zero for the battle over GMOs, with growing grassroots opposition to the five big biotech companies expanding their operations there: Monsanto, Syngenta, DuPont, Dow Agrochemicals and BASF.

“In Hawaii, we believe that our seeds, crops, and foods should remain free of contamination from genetically engineered plants,” said Big Island farmer and agricultural educator, Nancy Redfeather.


© 2021 EcoWatch

Nicole D’Alessandro

Nicole D’Alessandro  is communications manager of EcoWatch.

Progressives, Big Tech Critics Celebrate Confirmation of Lina Khan as FTC Chair

"Her presence on the FTC marks the beginning of the end of an era of lawlessness for powerful corporations that they've enjoyed at the expense of workers, smaller businesses, and democracy."

Jessica Corbett, staff writer ·


'Our Democracy Hangs in the Balance': Calls Grow for Justice Breyer to Retire

"Democrats could lose our razor-thin majority in the Senate at any moment," warns Rep. Mondaire Jones. "It would be irresponsible to leave the future of our democracy up to chance."

Brett Wilkins, staff writer ·


Share of Fossil Fuels in Global Energy Mix 'Has Not Moved by an Inch' in a Decade

"We are waking up to the bitter reality that the climate policy promises over the past 10 years have mostly been empty words," said the executive director of REN21, which released the new report.

Jessica Corbett, staff writer ·


Latest Nina Turner Ad in Ohio Highlights Working-Class Need for Medicare for All

"Wealth should never dictate whether you are able to see a doctor or live a healthy life."

Jenna McGuire, staff writer ·


Biden Admin Urged to 'Prevent a Historic Wave of Evictions' by Extending CDC Moratorium, Speeding Up Aid

"Far too many renters are struggling to access emergency rental assistance programs and are at risk of losing their homes when the moratorium expires," said the president of the National Low Income Housing Coalition.

Kenny Stancil, staff writer ·