By Ashley Lukens, PhD, Director – Hawai‘i Center for Food Safety, 16 June 2016



I’ve been at a loss for words to describe the experience of yesterday’s court proceedings – all of the work that went into that day – from community organizing, to political prowess, to tireless legal research and writing, culminating in that foreign-language theater we all trudged through (a.k.a. oral arguments in legalese).

As I looked across the courtroom, I was also reminded of how much has come before me, before us, before yesterday.

I was not around during those early years when Uncle Walter Ritte, Andy Kimbrell, Bill Freese, Auntie Jeri Di Pietro, Mary Lacques, Lynn Howe, Nancy Redfeather, and other visionaries met on a annual basis to discuss the threat that genetically engineered (GE) crops posed not just to Hawai‘i, but to the seed sovereignty of the entire world…their work brought us into that court room.

I was not there when Uncle Walter and a coalition of Kānakas and settlers forced the University of Hawai‘i to give up a patent on kalo, making Hawai‘i one of the first places in the world to successfully prevent the privatization and patenting of indigenous knowledge. Their victory laid the groundwork for our battles against agrochemical companies and the technologies that they’ve tested and deployed in Hawai‘i to increase their pesticide sales.