Advocates for a Maui County voter initiative won a victory Monday when Judge Rhonda Loo affirmed that the measure to ban GMO farming should appear on the November ballot.

Loo dissolved a temporary restraining order filed by opponents of the ballot initiative who claimed that the title, “Genetically Engineered Organisms,” is deceptive and confusing.

The Molokai Chamber of Commerce, a group called Citizens Against the Maui County Farming Ban, and seven individuals sued the state and the county last week, asking the court to push back the initiative to November 2016.

Loo disagreed.

“The Court finds that the proposed ballot title by itself is not misleading, let alone when read in conjunction with a valid question,” Loo said.

Monsanto Molokai field worker pollinates corn on July 3, 2014.

A Monsanto Molokai field worker pollinates corn on July 3.

PF Bentley/Civil Beat

She also allowed the the group behind the voter initiative, the SHAKA Movement, to intervene on behalf the county and said that it was in the public interest for the election to proceed without delay.

“Although plaintiffs contend that they are obligated to file this action in the interest of all Maui voters, the Court believes it is in the public interest to allow Maui voters to express their views at the polls this November rather than wait an additional two years,” Loo said. “Plaintiffs seem to indicate a willingness to halt the entire Maui County election process.”

Proponents of the ballot initiative applauded the decision.

“The judge clearly understands that Maui’s first-ever successful citizens’ initiative should not be blocked by a well-funded corporate campaign designed to thwart the democratic process,” said Bruce Douglas, spokesman for the SHAKA Movement, in a statement.

The SHAKA Movement is also suing the county to change the wording of the ballot initiative because it doesn’t include the word “moratorium.” Citizens Against the Maui County Farming Ban is seeking to intervene to defend the county in that case.

A hearing on the SHAKA Movement’s case has been scheduled Oct. 10. Douglas said Wednesday that the group is considering dropping the lawsuit as the issues have already been resolved.

Read the full transcript of Monday’s hearing here:

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