Monsanto and Dow AgroSciences are among the seed companies that have raised about $8 million to defeat a Maui County voter initiative to temporarily ban GMO farming until the county conducts a public health and environmental study of its impact, as reported by the Honolulu Civil Beat.
Campaign spending records show that agribusiness giant Monsanto has donated more than $5 million to Citizens Against the Maui County Farming Ban. Monsanto farms about 3,000 acres in Maui County and employs more than 500 workers.
Dow AgroSciences has given over $1.7 million to the political action committee. The company’s subsidiary, Mycogen Seeds, employs 100 people and farms about 400 acres on Molokai, one of three islands in Maui County.
The rest of the funding for Citizens Against the Maui County Farming Ban has come from Washington, D.C.-based Council for Biotechnology Information, and a group led by the executive director for the Hawaii Crop Improvement Association, a trade group for seed companies.
As of Oct. 20, Citizens Against the Maui County Farming Ban had spent more than $6.3 million to defeat the initiative. Proponents of the initiative had raised about $89,000 and spent about $83,000.
In recent years, Hawaii has increasingly become a flash point in the debate over genetic engineering in agriculture.
According to Tony Baldomero of the Hawaii Campaign Spending Commission, $8 million is the highest amount of money he has ever seen raised for any candidate committee, ballot issue committee, non-candidate committee, or super PAC, easily surpassing the $6.7 million raised by Republican gubernatorial candidate Linda Lingle in 2006.
Last year, environmentalist and shareholder advocacy groups filed resolutions urging Monsanto, DuPont de Nemours and Dow Chemical to stop using corporate funds to fight the Initiative 522 referendum in Washington that would have required special labels on raw and processed foods made from genetically modified crops.
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