Go to GMO Free Hawaii Home Page for more info on genetic engineering in Hawaii
Genetic Engineering on Kauai
The multinational corporations that dominate the genetic engineering industry have made a home for themselves here on the Garden Island. DuPont/Pioneer, Monsanto, Sygnenta and others have selected the state of Hawaii (and Kauai in particular) as the place to conduct some of their most experimental open-air field trials of genetically engineered crops. We are concerned about the effects these introduced, novel species will have on our public health, our local agricultural economy, and our fragile environment.
GMO-Free Kauai is a group of citizen volunteers from all sectors of the Kauai community working to move our island's agriculture away from genetic engineering. On this page you can learn more about the campaigns we are working on, ways you can get involved, and upcoming events. Thank you for taking the time to learn more about this important issue.
Children's Education: Pioneer, the biggest seed company in the world and now a subsidiary of the multinational corporation DuPont, has been going to elementary schools on Kauai and telling third and fourth graders that genetic engineering is good for farmers and the environment. Initially they were even handing out packets of genetically engineered corn to the children to take home with them. We are concerned about the curriculum that Pioneer has presented to Kauai school children, and are working to create an alternative curriculum about the dangers of genetic engineering and the benefits of truly sustainable agriculture that we can then bring to our local elementary schools. If you are interested in helping develop this curriculum or in teaching it once it is finalized, please contact us and we will connect you to this working group.
Papaya testing: The genetically engineered papaya has caused myriad problems for papaya growers on the Big Island. The trees are weaker and more susceptible to diseases like the blackspot fungus, importers from other countries do not want to buy GMO papayas which drives the price down, and contamination of non-GMO seed has been widespread. Farmers who through they were growing organic or conventional papayas have discovered that there trees are actually GMO, caused by seed contamination and cross-pollination.
We are concerned that there are genetically engineered papayas growing here on Kauai, and have begun conducting free testing of papayas in neighborhoods across Kauai. If you are concerned that papayas you grow or that you buy in the store could be genetically engineered, please give us a call to find out when the next testing day will be. All you need to do is bring a ripe papaya with developed seeds, a new leaf from the tree if possible, and detailed information about where that papaya came from and the date it was picked (or bought at the store).
Legislation: We are working to promote and support state legislation that would better regulate and control genetically engineered crops.
Kauai State Senator Gary Hooser and Kauai State Representative Hermina Morita have been strong supporters of reason and caution when it comes to genetically engineered crops in Hawaii. We thank them for all their good work and support and encourage you to contact them and thank them for taking action on this issue.
Public Outreach: We are consistently trying to find new ways to spread the word about this issue to the people of Kauai. As a result, we often table at public events and farmers markets, organize neighborhood gatherings where we show films about genetic engineering and facilitate discussion, and speak to other groups and organizations. If you are interested in helping with this outreach work, or if you are a part of a group that you think should know more about this issue, please contact us.
Media: Newspaper, television, and radio are powerful mediums through which we can inform people about genetic engineering. We frequently write letters to the editor, speak on talk radio shows, and submit articles to local newspapers. If you would like to help do media outreach, please contact us. If you are interested in submitting a letter to the editor on your own, please click here for information about how to write and where to send your letters.
Fundraising: As a grassroots organization, our financial situation is perpetually tight. We have existed thus far from t-shirt and bumper sticker sales, donations, and one project grant we received. We hold public fundraising parties and events and are working on putting together more grant applications. If you are able to contribute financially, please send checks to Hawaii GEAN (Genetic Engineering Action Network) at PO Box 1586, Hanalei, HI 96714. All money goes straight into our project work. If you are interested in helping to organize fundraising events or do grant writing, we would greatly appreciate your energy and support.
New campaigns are in the works, and we are always open to suggestions and ideas for other campaigns we should work on.
What you can do:
1) Participate in one of our campaign working groups.
2) Make a donation to GMO-Free Kauai. There are many ways to donate: if you are a musician, we can help organize a benefit concert. If you are an artist, you can donate the proceeds from a painting. If you are a farmer, you can donate food to an upcoming event. We also need financial support to make our campaigns a success. All donations are greatly appreciated and go directly into our project work.
3) Write a letter to the editor. Letters to the editor should be short (no more than 500 words) and to the point, and are a very effective way of sharing your ideas with the people in your community. Find out where to send letters to the editor.
4) Call our local elected officials. Call Mayor Baptiste and tell him this is something you are concerned about. Call our county council and urge them to take action on this issue. Find out how. They need to hear your voices!.
5) Fill a petition with signatures. You can Download our Petition Here and circulate it among your friends and co- workers. This is a powerful way for us to quantify the number of people behind this movement.
6) Vote. Register yourself if you haven't already, encourage friends to register, and help get people to the polls. We will be compiling a list of candidates in the next election who support our work, and if we can develop a strong enough voting block, we can have a profound effect on who is legislating genetic engineering in our county and our state.
7) Educate yourself. Check out the links to other websites on our page. Buy one of the books we have listed. There is so much to learn about this issue, and knowledge truly does make us powerful.
8) Educate your friends. The biotechnology industry has an incredible amount of money to spend spreading their message about genetic engineering. While we cannot compete with the size of their coffers, we do have people power on our side. Do all you can to spread the word about this issue and help get the truth out about genetic engineering.
9) Harness the power of your dollar. Consumer choices do make a difference. Organic foods are not allowed to contain genetically engineered ingredients. Buying organic is the only way to be sure you are avoiding GMO foods. Support our local growers and buy organic whenever you can. For a comprehensive guide to foods with genetically engineered ingredients, please see the True Food Network's shopping guide
10) Call our local grocery stores and tell them you don't want to eat genetically engineered foods. It was the power of the consumer in England that moved British grocery stores to stop using genetically engineered ingredients in their local brands. Thousands of calls flooded into the supermarkets each day, and finally the stores had to listen to their customers. On Kauai it wouldn't take thousands of calls to make a big impact on our local stores.
Have hope and do what you can. Working together, we can change the future of Kauai agriculture and move the Garden Island away from genetic engineering and towards locally-based, sustainable agriculture.
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