Advocates for Maui County’s moratorium on farming genetically engineered seeds will have to wait at least four more months before the ban could become a reality.

Court filings show that the county has agreed to put off enforcing the ban until March 31 to allow the court time to decide whether or not the ordinance is legal. The stipulation is the result of a lawsuit in federal court by global seed companies Monsanto and Dow AgroSciences as well as numerous local businesses and organizations.

“Defendant County of Maui shall be and is hereby enjoined from publishing or certifying the Ordinance, enacting, effecting, implementing, executing, applying, enforcing, or otherwise acting upon the Ordinance, and the Ordinance shall not be published, certified as an Ordinance, enacted, effected, implemented, executed, applied, enforced, or otherwise acted upon until March 31, 2015, or until further order of this Court, in order to allow for adequate time for the parties to brief and argue and for the Court to rule on the legality of the Ordinance as a matter of law,” the stipulation says.

Aerial view of Molokai biotech fields, reservoir

An aerial view of Molokai seed corn fields and reservoir.

PF Bentley/Civil Beat

Maui County voters narrowly approved the temporary moratorium on cultivating genetically modified crops on Election Day. The ordinance bans such farming until the county studies its impact on the environment and public health.

Monsanto and Dow AgroSciences are seeking to nullify the law and say the moratorium would cripple their businesses in Maui County which own or lease more 3,400 acres and employ more than 400 people.

The SHAKA Movement, the nonprofit group behind the moratorium, is suing the county and the seed companies in state court seeking to require the county to enforce the initiative.

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