Genetically engineered corn developers sue Hawaii county to

Genetically engineered corn developers sue Hawaii county to

Postby Oscar » Fri Nov 14, 2014 6:21 pm

Genetically engineered corn developers sue Hawaii county to halt voter-passed law

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Audrey Mcavoy, The Associated Press Fri, 14 Nov 2014 02:31:00 CST

HONOLULU, Hawaii – Two leading developers of genetically engineered corn have sued Maui County to stop a new law banning the cultivation of genetically modified organisms.

The lawsuit filed by Monsanto Co. and a Dow Chemical Co. unit in federal court in Honolulu asks a judge to immediately prevent the law from taking effect. It also seeks to invalidate the new law, which voters narrowly adopted during last week’s election after an intense campaign featuring $8 million in spending by the seed companies against the initiative.

Both companies research and develop new varieties of corn in the county. Hawaii’s warm weather enables the seed companies to grow more crop cycles each year, accelerating their research. Conducting the work in a U.S. state also helps the seed companies protect their intellectual property.

The lawsuit said Monsanto would have to substantially downsize its activity in the county, where it employs over 365 people and owns or leases more than 3,000 acres of farmland on Molokai and Maui islands. Mycogen Seeds, a unit of Dow AgroSciences, would shut down critical parts of its development and production operations in the county, and downsize its work force, the complaint said. Mycogen Seeds employs over 100 people and farms about 420 acres on Molokai.

Local businesses, seed company employees and the farm bureau joined the lawsuit as plaintiffs.

“This local referendum interferes with and conflicts with long-established state and federal laws that support both the safety and lawful cultivation of GMO plants,” John Purcell, Monsanto Hawaii’s business and technology lead, said in a statement.

The Maui law imposes a moratorium on the growing of genetically engineered crops until scientific studies are conducted on their safety and benefits. The moratorium would be lifted only after a vote by the Maui County Council.

The law, which doesn’t apply to crops in mid-growth cycle, goes into effect when officials certify the election results. That’s expected to happen late this month.


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