Hawai’i has become “ground zero” in the controversy over genetically modified (GMO) crops and pesticides. With the seed crop industry (including conventional as well as GMO crops) reaping $146.3 million a year in sales resulting from its activities in Hawai’i, the out-of-state pesticide and GMO firms Syngenta, Monsanto,
Monsanto, Bayer, Syngenta, DuPont Pioneer, and several associated trade groups spent over $50,000 lobbying the state legislature from January through April 2014, according to data from the Hawaii State Ethics Commission (as reported through June 6, 2014) analyzed by the Center for Media and Democracy/Progressive Inc. (CMD).
The big agricultural corporations Monsanto, Syngenta, Dow, DuPont, and Bayer, associated trade groups, and their lobbyists and employees contributed over $700,000 to state and county candidates from November 2006 through December 2013, according to a new CMD analysis of Hawaii Campaign Spending Commission data.
Of the “Big 6” chemical and seed companies and their trade associations lobbying and/or contributing to political candidates in Hawai’i, Bayer, Dow, CropLife America (a pesticide and agricultural chemical trade association), and the American Chemistry Council have ties to the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).
ALEC approved a “model” bill in 2013 for states to override the ability of counties and cities to democratically determine how they will regulate GMOs at the local and regional level.
Kaua’i County Councilmember and former state legislator Gary Hooser (D), who co-authored the county’s 2013 ordinance requiring disclosure of GMOs planted and pesticides used as well as buffer zones, calls Kaua’i “ground zero” not just for the testing of GMO crops, but also for “democracy in action.”Hooser, who is up for reelection himself this year, told CMD, “A lot of people never involved in politics, activism, or advocacy are getting involved because the big money interests are so in your face. There are candidates running on our side who never thought they’d be running, inspired by the companies’ poisoning of our community and control of our government.”