By Jeff King, News Director
The old saying is , “it ain’t over ’til it’s over.” Guess what? It ain’t over.
As of 9:53 p.m. HST Tuesday, the result was 22,647 (50.o percent) to 21,807 (46.5 percent) in favor of a moratorium on genetically modified organism testing, cultivating and planting in Maui County. Incidentally, there were 857 blank votes (which do not count as “yes” or “no” in a County election) and 23 votes labelled as “other.” If those blank votes had been shifted to the “no” side, the measure would have missed the mark by 17 votes. However, in the “woulda’, shoulda’ coulda’ column”…if that scenario had taken place, those so-called 23 “other” votes could have been enough to sway the result back to “yes.”
Given the recent infusions of tonnage of cash to convince voters to “just say no,” Monsanto and their partners who narrowly lost the GMO Initiative in Tuesday’s voting are already planning the next step: a legal one. Today, Monsanto’s Maui Community and Government Affairs Manager, Carol Reimann, provided this statement to media:
“Thank you so much for your valued support over the last few months as we fought the Maui Voter Initiative. We are so very disappointed with yesterday’s results, and I wanted to share with you some of our messaging. Below you will find a note from our Hawaii Site Lead stating that we will be filing a lawsuit challenging the legality of the initiative. I’ve also attached our media statement that was released earlier today.
I’ll keep you posted as more information becomes available – but once again, Mahalo so much for all that you do!”
Ms. Reimann’s letter was followed with the promised note from Dr. John Purcell, a Senior Fellow and Business and Technology Lead for Monsanto, Hawaii:
Yesterday, citizens in Maui County voted on an initiative seeking to ban the cultivation of genetically modified crops on Maui, Molokai and Lanai. The initiative passed.
If upheld, this initiative will result in a ban will have negative consequences for our employees and operations, and for hundreds of families, businesses, fellow farmers, home gardeners and others in our community. To protect our employees and farms, and in support of thousands of local residents who opposed this initiative, Monsanto plans to file a lawsuit challenging the legality of this harmful ban. We are confident in our products and practices and are committed to ongoing dialogue as we work through the legal system to determine if this initiative is legal and will be enforced. Monsanto has been a part of this community for nearly 50 years. We greatly appreciate your tremendous passion and hard work, and that of the thousands of local residents who joined the Citizens Against the Maui County Farming Ban committee and who recognized the problematic nature of this flawed initiative.
After falling behind in the absentee and walk-in early voting, the GMO Initiative blasted ahead with the final printout shortly after 10 p.m. As a co-anchor of election coverage on AKAKU: Maui Community Television, I turned to my co-anchor, Kathy Collins when we each heard the roar from outside the studio. The gathered masses had just seen the numbers.
History will look upon this whole exercise as a textbook example of taking a belief, following the rules to bring it to the attention of a democratic society, allowing them to vote and accepting the result.
It’s that “accepting the result” that will likely be the next several chapters in this story.