Keiki GMO Monsanto

As a mother of a beautiful little girl, and a resident of this beautiful island, few things worry me more than Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs), and the pesticides that are used on them.

The issue can be a bit confusing, but two things worry me in particular. The only tests used by the FDA to approve GMO foods for sale in the U.S. were reportedly paid for by the same companies that create GMOs and pesticides! In 26 countries around the world, where independent health and environmental studies were used, GMO crops and food have been banned completely or are strictly controlled! Time and again, independent studies have found that genetically modified food can be strongly linked to behavioral issues, digestive problems, diabetes, obesity, and has been directly linked to infertility and rapid tumor growth.

Second, many genetically modified crops are engineered to withstand massive quantities of herbicides and pesticides, all of which have been proven to cause short and long term damage to the health of humans (especially children), animals and the ecosystem.

This especially impacts us in Hawaii, because big biotech companies such as Monsanto, Dow and Syngenta use the islands as testing grounds for new strains of GMO crops, new pesticides and herbicides, and new combinations of all of these chemicals that have never been tested! The wind carries these untested chemical cocktails into our neighborhoods and schools, and the rain carries them into rivers, streams and the ocean. We are literally swimming in these untested chemicals. They are doing all of these experiments in open-air fields, without containment, even when the experiments involve spraying viruses.

Studies confirm that the pesticide danger is real. In 2010, researchers in Argentina found that Roundup (which contains glyphosate) caused birth defects in frog and chicken embryos at far lower doses than those used in agricultural spraying. The malformations seen in these experiments are strikingly similar to the human birth defects that are increasing in GM soy growing areas of South America, where large amounts of Roundup it used. The studies and statistics are mind boggling, once you begin to look into it. Many countries around the world have already stood up and said NO. Now it’s our turn to protect our islands and our keiki’s future.

~Educate yourself: It doesn’t take long. “Like” a few GMO related pages on Facebook so you get some stories in your newsfeed. A few suggestions: GMO Free Maui, Babes Against Biotech, The Organic & Non-GMO report, Hawaii GMO Justice Coalition, Save Hawaii from Monsanto.

~Put your $ where your heart is: We are all on a budget, but when you can, buy organic or Non-GMO Project Verified logos on food. If something is labeled USDA Organic, it can’t have any GMO products in it. There is an app called Buycott that can be downloaded onto your phone and will scan barcodes of products you want to know about (see ad below). I used it to research things I already had that I thought were small companies and were labeled “all-natural” only to discover that they were owned by Coke or Kraft and were full of GMO ingredients. For most things, I have found affordable alternatives and have slowly restocked my kitchen.

~Register to vote and VOTE!: A lot of decisions are being made by our lawmakers that blatantly favor the well being of big biotech and pesticide/herbicide companies (who have large lobbying pockets). When you follow the money trail behind some of these local lawmakers, it’s easy to see why. It’s time to clean house, and let the lawmakers know that from now on, if the decisions they make are not PONO, they lose their jobs. Go to to register to vote.

I see it as my duty as a mom to protect my children with everything I have. If I see governments and corporations making decisions that aren’t PONO I have to stand up and make things right. I hope you will too. Together we can protect our keiki and our aina.

Image Credit: Autumn Rae Ness

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Autumn Ness is the Director of the Organic Land Management Program of Beyond Pesticides. She is a community organizer and farmer advocate focused on empowerment of local organic farmers, policy, education and systems change. She’s also the campaign manager for Uncle Walter Ritte, running for State House for Pa’ia, Ha’iku, East Maui, Lana’i and Moloka’i. You can learn more about the Maui Food Hubs at, or follow them on facebook or instagram for updates. Check out Beyond Pesticides Hawai’i at