At this critical juncture, should Hawaiians allow our fragile ecosystems to be used for testing unproven, genetic engineering technologies? Or should we explore how Hawaiians together can develop holistic strategies and responses to environmental crises built upon indigenous knowledge, techniques and sovereignty? Do we pursue the unproven technological “quick fix?” Or do we strive for creating lasting international cultural, social and ecological impacts, which originate from a Kanaka Maoli-led movement, consistent with the ethos that the “’aina and the people are one.”
In this Forum, panelists will discuss the challenges that new genetic engineering proposals pose to indigenous Hawaiian cultural practices and sovereignty, and what a sustainable and local evaluation and response might be. We will also discuss several proposed applications targeting Hawaiian biodiversity, such as gene drive mosquitoes and genetically engineered trees. The forum also asks “how can a process of culturally grounded critical reflection and technology assessment be built into conservation practices aligned with IUCN Motion 83?” This will build upon our presence at the IUCN World Conservation Congress in September 2016, where two of our panelists presented a Knowledge Café forum.
Our panelists were Hawaiian cultural practitioners and educators Dr. Ku Kahakalau and Kelsea Kanohokuahiwi Hosoda; and national experts Dana Perls of Friends of the Earth and Jaydee Hanson of the Center for Food Safety.