The Maui County Clerk has released the wording of a ballot initiative that would ban genetically engineered crops, and it appears no one is happy with it.

A group called Citizens Against the Maui County Farming Ban says the title is confusing and wants it to be corrected.

“The ballot title as presently phrased is misleading and deceptive toward both proponents and opponents equally,” said the group’s spokesman, Tom Blackburn-Rodriguez in a statement.

Asked if the organization would consider filing a lawsuit over the wording, the group’s field coordinator Doug Gray said in an email, “Citizens Against the Maui County Farming Ban is considering all appropriate actions to ensure that a clear, fair and unbiased ballot title is presented to the voters of Maui County.”

The SHAKA Movement, the organization behind the voter initiative, is also unhappy.

“We don’t like it as they left the word ‘moratorium’ off the title,” the group’s spokesman, Bruce Douglas, said in email. He noted that the bill was called a moratorium when it was heard in the Maui County Council.

“Now all of a sudden they changed the name after a year of it being officially called a moratorium,” he said. “It’s just wholly inappropriate and we are extremely disappointed.”

Maui County Clerk Danny Mateo said his office wrote the title and question based on the proposed ordinance as well as input from both sides of the issue.

Read the ballot measure for yourself:

MAUI: Voter Initiative: Genetically Engineered Organisms

Should the proposed initiative prohibiting the cultivation or reproduction of genetically engineered organisms within the County of Maui, which may be amended or repealed as to a specific person or entity when required environmental and public health impact studies, public hearings, a two thirds vote and a determination by the County Council that such operation or practice meets certain standards, and which establishes civil and criminal penalties, be adopted for Maui County?


John Pritchett/Civil Beat

A good reason not to give

We know not everyone can afford to pay for news right now, which is why we keep our journalism free for everyone to read, listen, watch and share. 

But that promise wouldn’t be possible without support from loyal readers like you.

Make a gift to Civil Beat today and help keep our journalism free for all readers. And if you’re able, consider a sustaining monthly gift to support our work all year-round.



About the Author