It appears that voters in Maui have chosen by a narrow margin to impose a ban on farming practices that will ultimately cut jobs and jeopardize the local economy and the future of agriculture in Hawaii. 

The measure affects agricultural practices on the islands of Maui, Molokai and Lanai.

Jim Greenwood, president and chief executive officer of the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) issued the following statement in response:

“Agricultural biotechnology has contributed to the innovative farming solutions that have enabled farmers to grow more food on less land with fewer pesticide applications, less water and reduced on-farm fuel use. This initiative will criminalize these hard-working farmers and will prohibit long-standing farming operations in Maui and on neighboring islands.

“Agricultural biotech farming operations – whose presence contributes substantially to Maui County’s economy – will essentially be forced to shut down, leaving hundreds of local citizens without jobs.

“Even more damaging, passage of this initiative is a ban on innovation and sustainable farming. 

“The science of genetic engineering led to development of the Rainbow papaya, which is credited with saving Hawaii’s papaya industry. This technology has the potential to help other plants and crops – such as orchids, citrus, strawberries, coffee and bananas – withstand pests and disease. Now, Maui County farmers will be prohibited from using those improvements.

“We are proud of the successes and potential of biotechnology, and we will continue to defend our industry, our companies and their employees from baseless political claims that forbid science and eliminate farmer choice.”