In a 5 to 4 decision, Hawaii County Council voted yesterday to appeal the decision of a U.S. Magistrate Judge who has ruled to protect Monsanto and GMOs testing and production on the Big Island, and will continue their battle in a higher court.
Recently, an overwhelmingly popular vote of direct democracy in Hawaii County chose to ban the cultivation of GMO (genetically modified organisms) in their communities. However, genetic engineering giant Monsanto refused to accept the law, or the will of the people, and sued Hawaii County over the new law.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Barry Kurren, ruled in favor of Monsanto, and ordered the Hawaii County Council to stop any enforcement of the law. However, some questions have been raised about the judge who may have Monsanto ties through his wife. This, along with the type of political and financial pressure that Monsanto wields, has called into question whether Judge Kurren was able to be unbiased in this decision. Judge Kurren also has an established history of ruling in favor to protect Monsanto’s interest over that of the people. In August of this year, he also struck down Kaua’i’s Pesticide Reform Act, claiming there that it was pre-empted by state law denying local government right to pass it’s own regulations; this is the same tactic that he used in this ruling as well. Regardless, Hawaii County officials will appeal in higher court to keep the Big Island GMO free.
Of course, this is not the first time that Monsanto has sought to override the will of the people and force GMO crops on those who clearly do not want them. Monsanto and its partner companies have spent millions to fight measures to label products containing GMOs across the country, including in Oregon, California, and now Vermont. Top Monsanto officials also end up serving in key governmental positions with the FDA, EPA, or other government posts, including current Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, who is the former legal council for Monsanto.
These heavy government ties further complicate matters for those trying to deal with the ecological fallout and health implications of GMOs. In India, there have been over 290,000 farmers who have committed suicide because of GMOs crops, leading most to call Monsanto (or Monsatan as many not so affectionately call it) “the most evil company in the world.”
Monsanto has done much to earn that title as well, beyond their “round up ready” seeds and massively polluting pesticides. Monsanto was also convicted in 2002 in Alabama for “knowingly contaminated their community for decades with PCBs, chemicals used as an insulating fluid in electrical capacitors and transformers.” In 2012, a French court ruled that Monsanto was guilty of chemical poisoning. In Brazil, courts found Monsanto guilty of false advertising for claiming that their products were environmentally safe. And in Haiti, farmers there chose to burn the free GMO seeds from Monsanto rather than allow them to infect their nation, even in the wake of disaster.
Monsanto and its company Dow Chemical were also responsible for Agent Orange, which lead to the death of half a million civilians in Vietnam, left over 3 million people contaminated,and was responsible for birth defects of half a million Vietnamese children. The U.S. Military did not escape the wrath of Agent Orange either, and many who survived continued to be ill for the rest of their lives.
Monsanto has not been at all shy about their agenda, and have accepted no responsibility for any of the problems associated with their global lab experiment. In 1998, Monsanto’s director of corporate communications, Phil Angell, made their views on safety clear.
“Monsanto should not have to vouchsafe the safety of biotech food. Our interest is in selling as much of it as possible.”
It is the lack of any safety testing, and the havoc GMO crops and accompanying Round Up pesticides may be causing to the food chain and natural plants, that prompted so many nations, states, and activists to move to have GMOs labeled or out right banned all together. But this does not seem to phase the global giant.
Their spokesman for Britain who had this to say in 1999.
“People will have Roundup Ready soya whether they like it or not.”
Many will be watching the battle in Hawaii very closely. It is of monumental importance because not only is it a part of American’s battle for safe food, to protect bees, and insure the survival of natural plants, but it is also critical in the abilities of local government to operate. If Hawaii County loses this battle, it could cripple local law makers everywhere and give unprecedented power to those in the corporate world, like Monsanto, to operate above the law and the will of the people.
[Image: Sustainable Pulse]