Maui GMO Opponents Sue County, Seed Companies

The drafters of a new Maui County law imposing a moratorium on the cultivation of genetically modified crops sued the county to ensure it implements the law. The plaintiffs want the county to involve the community and be more transparent about the law.

HONOLULU (AP) — The drafters of a new Maui County law imposing a moratorium on the cultivation of genetically modified crops on Wednesday sued the county to ensure it implements the law.

The plaintiffs want the county to involve the community and be transparent about its implementation of the law, said their attorney, Michael Carroll.

County voters narrowly passed a ballot initiative imposing the moratorium last week.

The lawsuit said the county has disclosed it is finalizing how much manpower, equipment and other resources will be needed for the law but hasn't released details of the measures it intends to implement.

The county also hasn't contacted the plaintiffs — Alika Atay, Lorrin Pang, Mark Sheehan, Bonnie Marsh and Leiohu Ryder — even though they were heavily involved in the enactment of the bill, the lawsuit said.

The lawsuit asks the court to say the county is obligated to allocate adequate funding to support the law and set up rules to implement it. The plaintiffs want the court to order the county to regularly update the community on its progress.

Maui County spokesman Rod Antone said the county is unable to comment because this is a pending legal matter. The county said last week it was finalizing what it needed to implement the law and Mayor Alan Arakawa's administration would need to get approval for a budget amendment once it did so.

The complaint also names Monsanto Co. and Dow Chemical Co. unit Dow AgroSciences. The complaint asks the court to declare the new law is valid and enforceable and is not pre-empted by state laws, noting Monsanto and Dow AgroSciences have both questioned the legality of the measure.

Monsanto and Dow AgroSciences didn't immediately respond to an email requesting comment.

The lawsuit was filed the lawsuit in state Circuit Court in Wailuku. The advocacy group behind the ballot initiative, the Sustainable Hawaiian Agriculture for the Keiki and the Aina Movement, or SHAKA Movement, is also listed as a plaintiff.

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