Supporters of new Maui law banning GMO cultivation seek to stop lawsuit against measure

Markets Associated Press

Groups of moms and environmentalists are among the organizations that want to help defend a new Maui County law that bans the cultivation of genetically modified organisms.

Continue Reading Below

The coalition filed a motion Friday seeking permission to intervene in a federal lawsuit filed by Monsanto Co. and a unit of Dow Chemical Co., which sued to stop the law.

Meanwhile, another group supporting the law also asked to participate in the case and filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit or let a state court decide the issue.

A federal judge ruled Nov. 14 that Maui County can't implement the law until he considers arguments in the lawsuit against it.

Maui voters created the law with a ballot initiative passed earlier this month.

"We are seeking to uphold the law, which was voted in by the people of Maui County, for the health and safety of us, all," The Moms on a Mission Hui said in a statement.

Continue Reading Below

The measure was initially set to take effect after officials certified the election results, which was expected late this month.

Documents filed by supporters of the law say a state court in Maui is in the best position to determine the validity of the ordinance. They previously filed a separate lawsuit in state court seeking to compel the county to implement the law.

Attorneys for Earthjustice and Center for Food Safety, which represent the moms and others who want to intervene, said Maui County is blocking the will of the voters by agreeing to an injunction until March.

"Maui County's betrayal of its own people by agreeing to delay the moratorium without a whimper of resistance proves it cannot be trusted to properly defend our clients' interests," Earthjustice attorney Paul Achitoff said.

The county takes issue with that characterization but welcomes the involvement of groups like Earthjustice and Center for Food Safety, county spokesman Rod Antone said Monday.

"Our main concern at this point is assuring that the legality of the initiative approved by the voters is conclusively resolved so that any actions taken by the county in its enactment have the full sanction of the courts," he said in a statement. "We are hopeful that any involvement by outside groups serves to further this goal and resolves questions as the county moves forward."

___

Follow Jennifer Sinco Kelleher at http://www.twitter.com/JenHapa .