Environmental groups are suing for public access to Hawaii state agricultural records concerning field tests of genetically modified (GM) crops. Attorneys expect that the legal action represents the beginning of further activism in Hawaii, now the leading US hotspot for agricultural biotechnology trials.

Attorney Isaac Moriwake of the environmentalist law firm Earthjustice told The Scientist that federal records show 14 permits for biopharming, or growing drugs with genetically altered plants, in Hawaii were issued between 1999 and 2002. However, the permits do not specify where test plots are, which genes are undergoing alteration, or what kind of substance is being produced.

"Among concerns we have with these field tests is they use food crops, and they take place in open air. There are also unique ecosystems in Hawaii with a great concentration of endangered species that could be affected if plants get out of field trial areas," said Joseph Mendelson,...

Interested in reading more?

Become a Member of

Receive full access to more than 35 years of archives, as well as TS Digest, digital editions of The Scientist, feature stories, and much more!