Concerned Oahu Citizens Demand that Monsanto Stop Poisoning Hawaii and Leave the State
Several organizations and over 100 concerned citizens held a protest on Thursday in front of the Monsanto Corporation headquarters in Kunia on the Island of Oahu, Hawaii. The protesters met in Kunia and marched over a half mile to the Monsanto compound for two hours of roadside sign-waving and chanting. The protesters demanded that Monsanto leave Hawaii saying they need real food not exported GMO seeds and chemical contamination. The group also demanded that Genetically Modified Organism (GMO) foods be labeled.
The protesters held a pule (prayer) near the shopping center, before starting their march asking for their ancestor’s blessings.
The protesters, wearing masks to protect from pesticide drift and GMO spores, received lots of support from many in passing cars who honked their horns and waved in support. A nearby resident came to find out what was going on and soon donned a mask himself as he was unaware of the dangers so close to his house. The resident expressed concern about the large trucks and equipment operating at night at Monsanto’s fields.
Monsanto operates about 8,000 acres in Hawaii, for GMO seed production. Hawaii is an ideal site for GMO seed production due to its isolation and good weather. The problem, according to critics, is that GMO operations take the most valuable agricultural lands and water away from food production, and also the large amounts of chemicals and pesticides that are required to grow these crops. Hawaii is a global center for the open-air field testing of experimental GMO crops, but no impact studies have been conducted.
Food security is a growing concern in Hawaii as the majority of the food is imported while the biotech industry grows GMO seeds for export. The need for locally grown, wholesome, natural, non-toxic food is high on everyone’s priority list.
Monsanto stopped operations for the afternoon of the protest and allowed most workers to leave early. Monsanto erected a barrier and manned a security station at the entrance to their compound. There were several Monsanto employees filming the protesters throughout the event.
A local television station interviewed the Vice President for Monsanto, Mr. Fred Perlak, after the protest and he asked that the protesters keep an open mind “Look beyond your personal needs for what happens, this is important for everyone in the world,” Perlak said. But the protest groups do not believe it, and have a strong message for Monsanto. “Get out of Hawaii, grow food, stop growing seeds and chemicals, grow food, we need food security over here,” said Walter Ritte with “Label it Hawaii”.
This protest follows similar protests recently held on the islands of Maui and Kauai against Monsanto. Activist organizations on the other islands vowed solidarity and stated that they are planning more protests until Monsanto leaves the islands.