Monsanto reaches out to public as Maui County receives testimony on bill related to pesticides and GMOs
Maui County Council’s Policy and Intergovernmental Affairs Committee will continue to accept testimony through Friday on the Maui County Bill Related to Pesticides and GMOs.
A hearing on Councilmember Ellie Cochran’s bill took place Tuesday in Council Chambers with 96 people testifying. A total of 51 Molokai people testified by phone from the Kaunakakai Gym. When the meeting ended at 4:30 p.m., 81 people on the list had not testified. The meeting will continue Friday in Council Chambers from 9 a.m.-noon to accept further testimony.
Rick Hokama, chairman of the PIA Committee, said a committee meeting on Molokai concerning this issue is possible. About 100 from Molokai people signed up to testify.
Cochran’s bill is similar to the one passed on Kauai that now faces legal challenges. Since introducing the bill, Cochran has introduced an amended bill in an attempt to overcome the legal problems. However, testimony has been accepted on the original bill, not the amended one. Written testimony is still being accepted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The central purpose of the bill is to mandate the disclosure of pesticides and genetically modified organisms used by companies like Monsanto and Mycogen. The bill would also create pesticide buffer zones and require environmental and public health impact studies. Worker protection standards would be implemented. Companies would also be required to issue pesticide pre-application good neighbor courtesy notices.
Also on Tuesday, Monsanto issued a press release expressing its “community engagement” efforts. A “listening tour” around the state hopes “to promote open dialogue and secure greater understanding about the company’s farming practices and products.”
Monsanto did not release any specific dates or locations for this listening tour. Linn Nishikawa, of Linn Nishikawa & Associates, Inc., Monsanto’s public relations firm, wrote, “Monsanto Hawaii is planning various activities in different formats/locations. They’ll be happy to share more information as the details are firmed up.” She also mentioned that on the www.MonsantoHawaii.com website there’s a page where those interested can sign up for a farm tour.
Here is the full text of the Monsanto press release:
Monsanto Hawaii Announces Enhanced Community Engagement Effort
Launches MonsantoHawaii.com and Begins Listening Tour
(January 27, 2014) – In an effort to promote open dialogue and secure greater understanding about the company’s farming practices and products, Monsanto Hawaii has begun an effort to improve its relationship with its neighbors. The company wants to ensure proper understanding of its operations, and more importantly, wants to know about the community’s concerns to see what it might be able to do differently to be better neighbors and better stewards of the land.
“We understand that people are protective of their families and the islands, and would like to know more about how the lands are being protected by Monsanto Hawaii,” said Fred Perlak, Vice President at Monsanto Hawaii. “While we have been good farmers and good stewards of the land, we recognize that we can do more to be better listeners as well. We are going to change that.”
To achieve greater transparency, Monsanto Hawaii has launched a community engagement effort and listening tour in the hope of developing both a better understanding of the company’s operations here in Hawaii and a greater understanding of the community’s questions about Monsanto’s operations. The effort has begun with the launch of a Hawaii specific web portal (MonsantoHawaii.com) designed to allow people to learn about Monsanto and to ask questions of the company about its operations and practices. Monsanto Hawaii will also be increasing its farm tours, holding community meetings and forums and developing programs to better inform its direct neighbors about its day-to-day operations.
“We want to get to know our community members better, and we want them to get to know us better,” said Perlak. “We are launching this effort to help us explain the good farming practices we have in place and to better understand what else we can do to be a good neighbor and steward of the land.”