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Monsanto wants to use Hawaiian students' photos in ads after denying their right to regulate GMOs and poisons in their environment

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(NaturalNews) Agribusiness giant Monsanto is pushing to use the photos of students attending an elementary school in Hawaii but critics say the effort appears aimed at propagandizing the increased use of the company's pesticides.

As reported by Hawaii News Now, there is now a plaque at the entrance to the office of Waialua Elementary School in recognition of companies that assisted with a project on campus; they include Monsanto Hawaii and three other companies that donated funds to build a cultural garden on site.

"It's not like we're trying to promote anybody," principal Scott Moore told the local news service. "We just appreciate the help that they give us and wanted to say thank you."

That's not all. Monsanto also helped pay for the grade school's bicycle safety program. And now the company has sent a form home with children seeking parental permission to use their child's photo in the company's publications.

"I think two things are most concerning to me, the first being the use of the children's image in advertising. The second is the fact that they say on the form that you're agreeing that every statement you make is true. But they also have the ability to edit that statement," Colleen Chapman, a local parent, said.

'You have to look at the context'

John Purcell, vice president of Monsanto Hawaii, said the photos would be added to the company's Facebook page.

"This is creating awareness about some really amazing things that are happening in our community, which is great for our employees, they're very proud of that. But it's also great for the efforts that are going on," he said.

However, Ashley Lukens, director of the Hawaii Center for Food Safety, said she believes that the company is just trying to change parents' opinions about the use of pesticides.

"You have to look at the context within which a simple donation to a school, a simple media release form," she said. "It doesn't taste right to the parents whose children are potentially at risk of pesticide drift."

Purcell noted that parents were not required to sign the release forms.

"It is voluntary," he said. "If you're not feeling comfortable we respect that."

But some parents are going a step further; the forms that were sent home have led to a group of parents initiating a petition drive to end Monsanto's involvement with the elementary school altogether.

Monsanto has had a rocky relationship with the state, largely over efforts to ban genetically modified organisms (GMOs).

'The radicalizing of dissent'

As far back as 2012, Natural News' editor Mike Adams, the Health Ranger, noted that local organizations were working to prevent Monsanto GMO seeds and crops from being introduced into the Hawaiian ecosystem.

Also, we noted that the biotech industry fought back against local ordinances banning or restricting the use of GMO seeds and the planting of GMO crops.

With the crop seed industry -- conventional as well as genetically modified crops -- reaping some $146.3 million a year in sales from Hawaii-based farming activity, out-of-state pesticide and biotech firms like Monsanto, Syngenta, DuPont Pioneer, Dow Chemical, BASF and Bayer CropScience "have brought substantial sums of corporate cash into the state's relatively small political arena," reports the Center for Media and Democracy's PR Watch in June 2014.

"The impact of this corporate cash on local politics is not just that representatives are pressured to vote based on donations to their campaigns. Rather this cash has been strategically spent to create a mirage of confusion and disagreement around very mainstream issues like pesticide disclosure and GMO labeling," Lukens said at the time.

But, she noted, nine in 10 Americans in many surveys said they wanted to see GMO labeling of foods.

"Standing up for something as conservative as transparency around chemical use in Hawaii is treated as though it is radical," Lukens said. "This radicalizing of dissent simply serves to silence the majority of the public and keep them from participating publicly in the civic process."






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