Amidst a growing and increasingly successful local movement to regulate genetic engineering in farming, the Hawaii Crop Improvement Association has shaken up its leadership team.

The trade group represents Hawaii’s seed industry, which includes multinational biotechnology companies Monsanto, Syngenta, Dow AgroSciences, Pioneer Hi-Bred International and BASF.

Syngenta headquarters on Kauai. 3.23.14 Photo by Nick Grube/Civil Beat

The Syngenta headquarters on Kauai.

Nick Grube/Civil Beat

In a statement released Monday, the group announced its new president, Kirby Kester, a research and development leader at Dow AgroSciences Hawaii. Kester lives in Molokai but previously worked for the seed industry in Kauai for 20 years.

“We know our industry is under siege,” said Kester in a press release. He added that the group plans to do more to teach people “they have nothing to fear from modern agriculture and the tools created with biotechnology.”

HCIA also announced its new executive director, Bennette Misalucha. Misalucha has experience in banking and finance and also worked as a reporter at KHON.

The group’s former executive director, Alicia Maluafiti, resigned this year but will continue to work as a lobbyist for the group.

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