- Associated Press - Friday, May 23, 2014

WAILUKU, Hawaii (AP) - More than half of the signatures collected to get a measure opposing genetically modified foods on the Nov. 4 ballot in Maui County were rejected.

Organizers collected more than 9,700 signatures, but the Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported Friday that the Maui County Clerk deemed about 5,000 of them invalid.

The initiative seeks to ban genetically modified organisms in Maui County.

To get on the general election ballot, an initiative petition must have about 8,500 valid signatures, or 20 percent of the number of people who voted in the last mayoral election.

After duplicates and signatures with incorrect information were rejected, the petitioners were left with about 4,700 signatures. Maui County Clerk Danny Mateo said some of those that signed were not registered to vote in Maui County. The rejection rate was on par with past races, when about 45 percent of signatures were accepted.

Carol Reimann, Maui community and government affairs manager for biotechnology corporation Monsanto Co., told the Maui News the initiative is “misguided” and would “severely damage our local economy, jeopardize hundreds of jobs on Maui and Molokai, and create a painful ripple effect on other businesses and families in our county.”

To get on the November ballot this year, the group advocating for the initiative, called the SHAKA Movement, has to submit the remaining valid signatures by Tuesday, said Josiah Nishita, deputy county Maui County clerk. Organizers said they plan to turn in more signatures.

“We have another 7,600 signatures counted last night and right now we’re verifying them,” organizer Mark Sheehan said.

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