Pouring rain and pulled permits didn't stop protesters from turning out at Sunday's “Aloha Aina March” in Haleiwa. At noon on Sunday, a mob marched 1.5 miles along the Kamehameha Highway to the Haleiwa Beach Park. Dustin Barca organized the event along with the Hawai'i GMO Justice Coalition.
An estimated 1,000 people came out to make some noise and raise awareness about genetic engineering (GE) agricultural experimentation and pesticide-laden GE seed production in Hawaii. Among the throng of concerned citizens and environmental activists joining Barca were Kelly Slater, Shane Dorian, Mark Healey, Seabass, Makua Rothman, John John Florence, Jamie O'Brien, and Bede Durbidge, along with Molokai activist Walter Ritte.
PHOTOS: On Oahu
There are two main issues the march was seeking to bring attention to. The first is companies like Monsanto performing genetic experiments on Hawaiian soil. These experiments are banned in other developed nations because of their potential environmental ramifications. The second is that Kamehameha Schools leased more than 1,000 acres of land to Monsanto for the testing, so the protesters urged the private school to evict the company.
This push came on the heels of the recently passed Kauai Bill 2491—legislation requiring companies to disclose their use of GMOs, pushed through after the city council overturned the mayor's veto weeks before the opening of Hawaii's legislature. Presumably, some anti-GMO bills will be up for debate.
Last week, Barca received the 2013 SURFER Poll Agent of Change Award, and announced the event during his award acceptance speech. He encouraged the surf community to show up and care about this GMO testing in Hawaii. "It's time to step up and fight for the North Shore," said Barca. "We want to save Haleiwa. We want to save Wailua. We want to save the North Shore."