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GMO & You: A MAUIWATCH LEGAL GUIDE to the GMO Initiative

Michael A. Lilly @ 0:39: The criminal penalties… would be equivalent to sexual assault, negligent homicide many other what would anyone would realize would be a significant crime that you’re now penalizing people for growing papayas.

Fear monger anyone? No one anywhere has to get “Sex Offender Registration” for growing papayas.

Misleading to being clearly not true. The law recognizes a very low level of sexual assault and negligent homicide. Saying “Sex Assault” here is meant to invoke thoughts of forcible rape and prison sodomy. The “Sex Assault he is talking about is actually Sex Assault in the Fourth Degree, a low level of sex assault that often doesn’t include contact, threats and NEVER includes sex (forcible or otherwise)! This version of Negligent Homicide is again the lowest level of Negligent Homicide, but is clearly meant to invoke thoughts of Felony Negligent Homicide, the killing of a person while driving a car high on drugs. Very different from the misdemeanor crime listed above.

He easily could have said that the penalty is equivalent to such significant crimes as “having an old sticker on your cab at the airport” or “Being at a public school after 10:00 pm” (HRS 708-813) or “theft of an empty beer keg” (HRS 708-835.8). Or my favorite: “Going to a party uninvited” (HRS 708-812.6).

Yes. Going to a house party without an invitation is a misdemeanor, with a penalty that would be equivalent to the other charges Michael Lilly listed in the video. Except maximum penalties are meant to be a range that gives a prosecutor and a judge leeway. Clearly, someone with a busload of kegs, or someone who never updates his cab sticker and gets tickets daily, is much closer to getting a year in jail, than someone who waters one rainbow papaya.

At its root, this is the problem: This type of intentionally misleading narrative is exactly what makes ordinary people distrust the GMO companies. If they would just be honest about the benefits and the safety of their product, the citizens of Maui could make a fair choice. Instead, they’re silent as to those things, and we get this.
This is what makes people in Maui think either there is something wrong with the benefits and safety of the product, OR people in Maui are easily misled by fear. I don’t believe that’s true.

Finally, the Kauai bill was “thrown out” by the Federal Court, the same thing will happen here.

An unequivocal maybe.

The law is very clearly designed to be different from the Kauai GMO/pesticide law. The Kauai law added a new level of local review and restrictions. It added additional reports and notices. The Maui initiative simply outlaws GMOs. It doesn’t even address pesticides. If anything saves this bill from State pre-emption, its the decision to completely excise any opportunity for Maui citizens or businesses to grow GMO crops. It is not greater regulation, it is simply outlawed. Think about the way Maui has outlawed strip clubs, in spite of state laws that address liquor consumption, sales, and prostitution.

First, the Federal decision left the door open that, under state law, County governments have some role to play in agricultural regulation. It also held the State has exclusive authority over pesticide regulation and GMO notification requirements. Maui cannot outlaw pesticide on its own. The Kauai Federal Court decision also says very clearly that Federal law does not preempt Kauai’s legislation.

The difference in regards to Federal preemption between the Kauai and Maui laws may be the Federal APHIS permits. Partly the reason why the Kauai law was not preempted by Federal law is because it didn’t interfere with APHIS permitting, it simply requested further reports. The Maui law seems to simply say Federal APHIS permits are not welcome here. That may be an issue that the Federal Courts may decide differently for Maui if this initiative passes.

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About Marcus Landsberg

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Marcus Landsberg is a political & senior judicial analyst for MAUIWatch and President of the Landsberg Law Office. His successful criminal defense practice allows him to represent pro bono cases of interest in the community such as the Honolulu Food Trucks, and MAUIWatch.

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