WAIALUA, Hawaii – You can trace the genetic makeup of most corn grown in the U.S., and in many other places around the world, to Hawaii.
The industry’s leading companies all have farms in the tiny island state. They take advantage of Hawaii’s warm weather to grow new varieties of corn genetically engineered for desirable traits like insect and drought resistance.
But these same farms have become a flash point in a spreading debate over genetic engineering in agriculture.
Kauai and Hawaii counties have moved in the past several months to regulate genetically modified organisms and the pesticides the farms use. In Maui County, a group is collecting signatures for a potential ballot measure that would impose a temporary ban on the crops.