Genetically engineered seed companies and the farmers who grow their crops got a little breathing room Friday thanks to a federal court order halting the implementation of Maui County’s new GMO law.

Judge Barry Kurren granted a temporary injunction for Monsanto and a list of other plaintiffs who filed a lawsuit Thursday challenging the moratorium on genetically modified farming that voters narrowly approved Nov. 4.

The injunction is in place until Dec. 5 unless further ordered by the court.

GMO fields on Molokai (NO TEXT)

An aerial view of Monsanto Company’s fields on Molokai, part of Maui County.

Monsanto and an affiliate of DowAgro Chemicals operate on 3,400 acres in Maui County, employing more than 400 people. The biotech companies spent more money trying to defeat the ballot initiative that created the ordinance than has ever been seen in Hawaii elections on a single issue.

In the lawsuit, the companies say it’s unfair for the county to ban genetically engineered farming until the county studies the public health and environmental effects and the County Council deems it’s safe.

Attorneys pointed at the harm to the local economy and belief that scientists have already proven GMOs are fine.

As Civil Beat reported, the lawsuit comes a day after five Maui County residents and a nonprofit called the SHAKA Movement sued the county, Monsanto and Dow AgroSciences in state court seeking to ensure that the ban would be enforced.

Read the court order granting the injunction here:

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