East Hawaii News

Judge Rules Farmer ‘John Doe’ Can’t Remain Anonymous

April 24, 2014, 6:29 PM HST
* Updated April 25, 9:14 AM
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A plaintiff in a lawsuit filed to stop the forced registration of growers of genetically modified papayas cannot remain anonymous, a judge ruled today.

Circuit Court Judge Greg Nakamura today issued the ruling in John Doe vs. County of Hawaii, which was filed in early March, just before the deadline to register.

According to the lawsuit filed by Honolulu attorney Margery Bronster, the papaya farmer wished to remain anonymous because he had already been the victim of “intimidation and threatening behavior” by anti-GMO activists.

The lawsuit argues that the registration requirement, part of a new county law prohibiting farmers from growing new transgenic crops, conflicts with Hawaii’s Constitution and state law.

Under the law, growers of papayas genetically modified to resist the ringspot virus who don’t register the locations of their crops face fines of $1,000 per day.

According to the lawsuit, about 85% of the papayas grown on the Big Island are of transgenic varieties.

On March 7, Nakamura ordered the county to temporarily stop requiring the registrations.

During that hearing, Bronster revealed that another papaya farmer, Ross Sibucau, had been added as a plaintiff.

Bronster said today that “John Doe” will now have to decide whether to reveal his identity or allow the lawsuit to proceed without him.

Bronster said the next step in the case is to obtain an injunction to stop the registration requirement.

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