Early returns show an uphill struggle for a ballot initiative that would ban the growing of genetically modified organisms in Maui County.
The first ballots to be counted show 58 percent of voters oppose the ban.
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The measure applies only to Maui County, but it could have effects across the nation.
Maui is home to farms owned by national companies like Monsanto and a Dow Chemical subsidiary, which produce new varieties of genetically engineered seeds.
The companies conduct research in Hawaii because the year-round warm weather allows them to grow three to four crops a year instead of one.
There has been little scientific evidence to prove that foods grown from engineered seeds are less safe than their conventional counterparts.
Opponents cast the proposal as anti-farming.