Faces of Molokai dependent on biotech industry with little say in proposed GMO ban

Civil Beat photographer turned his lens on employees, farmers and their families on Molokai, the island where Big Biotech is the largest employer. A Maui County voter initiative targeting genetically modified organisms — GMOs — seeks to ban their cultivation until the county studies their effects. Although it’s unclear what the companies will do if the initiative becomes law, state economist Eugene Tian said that if the industry collapses, Molokai’s unemployment rate could jump to more than 18 percent. And while the island has the most to lose, it’ll have the least say come November. Maui County also contains Lanai and Maui, which have about 20 times more people than Molokai. According the SHAKA Movement, the group behind the voter initiative, more than 19,000 people signed the petition putting the bill on the ballot — only about 300 were Molokai residents.

While thousands of people signed the Maui County voter initiative placing a moratorium on GMO farming, just 300 were from Molokai. Residents who are worried about Monsanto and Mycogen Seeds’ farming practices often say that they fear how pesticides are affecting the environment.
Loke Rawlins, an employee at Monsanto Molokai, used to work at Molokai Ranch but got laid off in 2008 when the company closed its high-end lodge, beach-side homes and movie theater. She gets upset when she thinks about potentially losing her job again.

Read the full, original article: The Projector: The Faces of Molokai’s GMO Economy — July 14-20

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