Maui Residents And Citizen Group Seek Intervention In Federal Court
Asserting That The Legal Issues Resulting From The Voter Approved GMO Moratorium Properly Belong In The State Court
For Immediate Release:
November 21, 2014
Contact: Michael C. Carroll (legal counsel for Plaintiffs)
Bays Lung Rose Holma
Maui, Hawai`i (November 21, 2014) – The Five residents of Maui County, Dr. Lorrin Pang, Mark Sheehan, Lei’ohu Ryder, Bonnie Marsh, Alika Atay, and the SHAKA Movement, the original proponents of the GMO Ordinance on Maui, filed a Motion to Intervene and a Motion to Dismiss the Federal Court lawsuit filed by Monsanto Company and others seeking to invalidate the ordinance that was approved by the voters on election day.
In Court papers filed today, the interested citizens and the citizen group requested that the Federal Court “abstain from resolving the important State issues that directly impact the County’s ability to protect its natural environment and avoid irreparable harm to Public Trust resources.”
In a historic election on November 4, 2014, Maui voters enacted into law a County Ordinance requiring GMO businesses to demonstrate that the testing and development of genetically modified organisms are not harmful to the Maui community and its ecosystem. The Ordinance requires that the GMO industry fund a study that is independently administered by the County to show that the operations are not harmful.
In a clear attempt to reverse the result of the election, certain groups opposed to the measure (who collectively spent millions of dollars campaigning against it) filed an action in Federal Court asking for the law to be invalidated, or never enforced. Joining them, in asking the judge for an order delaying the implementation of the new law were the legal representatives of Maui County.
The motion filed in federal court today asserts that interests of the majority of Maui County voters who approved the ordinance are not properly represented in the agreement reached between the Maui county officials, and the industry opponents. A second filing asserts “Ingrained throughout the Hawaii Constitution are vital environmental considerations that recognize the importance of preserving Hawaii’s delicate natural environment. These provisions are unique given Hawaii’s delicate ecosystem, history, and cultural heritage.” Under the Hawaii Constitution, the State is expressly obligated to provide for the “protection and promotion of the public health”. The motion argued that these vital constitutional interests are to be properly considered under Hawaii State Law.
“We are pleased to finally have our voices heard in the Federal Lawsuit,” said Mark Sheehan, spokesperson for the citizen group. “Given the County’s strong prior opposition and agreement to allow a temporary injunction to delay the implementation of the ordinance, we look forward to the opportunity to express our own position”. The position approved by a majority of the voters in the November election, calling for a moratorium on the production of genetically engineered seeds, and further open air experimentation until independent safety studies have realized, and concluded that there will be no environmental harm.