Hundreds marched in Haleiwa March 2, calling upon Kamehameha Schools (KS), which leases 1,033 acres of Haleiwa ag land to Monsanto, to evict the agrochemical, GE seed company.
“We are singling out KS because we believe in their mission and we believe in their ability to do better,” said Shelley Muneoka, an alumna of KS. “I think what’s happening right now with KS leasing to Monsanto harkens back to when KS was evicting George Santos, sparking the Kalama Valley struggle that ignited the 20th-century Hawaiian Renaissance. I alii no ke alii no i ke kanaka, a chief is only a chief because of the people.”
The crowd included entertainer Michael Franti, UFC champion Lyoto Machida, anti-GMO activist Walter Ritte and North Shore residents. “The world is looking at us as ground zero for GMO poison chemical testing and farming,” said pro surfer Dustin Barca. “The biggest tourist destination does not coincide with the biggest poison-testing destination.”
From the doorways of Haleiwa Town businesses came the chant “No more GMO!” as cars honked. Policemen in aloha wear supervised the closure of one lane on Kamehameha Highway.
“It’s a shame that a lot of the land that Monsanto is on is owned by Kamehameha Schools, and they are supposed to be perpetuators of Hawaiian culture and stewards of the land,” said pro surfer and actor Kala Alexander.
Also marching was Dr. Hector Valenzuala, who recently published “Environmental and Health Risks of Synthetic Chemicals used by the Biotechnology Seed Industry in Hawaii,” an assessment of GMO farming in Hawaii, which is based on the intensive use of a cocktail of pesticides, chemical fertilizers and other high fossil-fuel inputs.
In an email, Neil Hannahs, director of KS’s Land Assets Division, commented on the protest. “Kamehameha Schools has launched its own initiatives to sift through the issues and better inform our practices,” Hannahs wrote. “We are also prepared to sit with others who seek to create a venue to share incisive analysis, engage in constructive discussion and promote enlightened policies.”