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KPD seeks vandals who destroyed plants in Wailua

LIHU’E – Kaua’i police are trying to identify the vandals who trampled corn and

chopped down ‘awa, taro, pineapple and papaya plants at two sites earlier this


The vandals signed a press statement as “The Menehune” and claimed

to be anti-biotechnology activists.

The statement was released by Genetix

Alert Press Office, a news service that publishes reports of anti-biotechnology

activists but claims not to be involved in them.

Police said 2,400 corn

plants valued at $4,800 were trampled the night of May 9 at a Novartis Seed

field in Wailua.

Novartis grows both genetically engineered crops and

conventionally bred crops, but company communications manager Tony

Minnischsoffer said he could not confirm if the damaged plants were the result

of genetic engineering.

The next night, between 2,000 and 3,000 ‘awa plants

in a collection of varieties from around the state were damaged or destroyed at

the Agriculture Research Center at Wailua.

Clifton Abe, the farm manager at

the UH facility in Wailua, said the vandalism was “senseless.”

Dr. Ramon

Dela Pena, a agronomist who has been working on creating higher-yield taro

crops, said the vandalism set “my work back a whole year.”


Terry Sekioka said most of the damaged plants were not bio-engineered. The

vandals, however, destroyed a type of taro variety that was grown by ancient

Hawaiians, Dela Pena said.

“We are trying to preserve this variety so that

they don’t disappear,” he said. The incident marked the first time plants have

been vandalized at the UH facility, which opened in the 1960s, Abe said.

Police estimated the loss at $3,600. Since the vandalism, security

measures have been heightened at the farm, Abe said.

The Menehune statement

also claimed the group had destroyed anthuriums and dendrobium orchids. But

Sekioka said those flowers are not researched at the center. He said the group

may have mistaken the tops of taro plants for anthuriums.

APcontributed to

this report


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