HONOLULU (AP) - A federal judge says a ban by Maui County on the cultivation of genetically engineered crops is pre-empted by federal and state law and invalid.

HONOLULU (AP) A federal judge says a ban by Maui County on the cultivation of genetically engineered crops is pre-empted by federal and state law and invalid.

U.S. District Court Judge Susan Oki Mollway said in a ruling Tuesday that the ordinance creating the prohibition exceeds the county's authority.

Maui County spokesman Rod Antone says the county will abide by the judge's ruling.

Maui voters passed the ordinance by approving a ballot initiative last November.

The measure imposes a moratorium on the growing of genetically engineered crops until scientific studies are conducted on their safety and benefits. The ordinance would only allow the moratorium to be lifted after a vote by the Maui County Council.

Monsanto Co. and Dow Chemical Co. unit Agrigenetics Inc. have farms in the county to research genetically engineered crops.