|Chronologically listed items on this page in descending order:
House bill aims to ban taro testing for 5 years - By Gordon Y.K. Pang - Thursday, February 15, 2007.
A bill that would ban the testing and growing of genetically modified taro in Hawai'i for five years advanced out of the House Agriculture Committee yesterday. A similar measure calling for a 10-year moratorium is moving through the Senate. Supporters of a moratorium consist primarily of Native Hawaiian taro farmers who say the development of genetically modified taro, or kalo in Hawaiian, is unnecessary and an affront to Hawaiian culture and tradition. Officials from the state Department of Agriculture and the University of Hawai'i's College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources say the ban would set back research being done to protect taro from the invasion of destructive insects and diseases. The House bill initially also called for a 10-year ban, but House Agriculture Chairman Clift Tsuji offered a five-year moratorium as a compromise between the two sides.
"Taro is just not another plant, it is our first-born, it is our ancestor, it is our family," Moloka'i activist Walter Ritte Jr. said in a reference to the kumulipo, the sacred Hawaiian genealogical chant that speaks to taro's close relationship as elder brother to people. "We don't want our ancestors' genes to be fooled around with in the laboratories, and we don't want possible contamination in our fields." Jerry Konanui, a fifth-generation taro farmer from Puna, said there is nothing wrong with Hawaiian varieties of taro. "It offends me to think that people are going to 'save' our taro," he said.
Threat to taro
State Agriculture Board Chairwoman Sandra Lee Kunimoto, in written testimony, warned that lethal insects and diseases have wreaked havoc on taro plants elsewhere in the Pacific. Taro beetles have spread from New Guinea and the Solomon Islands to Fiji, Kiribati and New Caledonia. "Given that there are these very real threats to taro that could come to Hawai'i from the Pacific islands, we caution limiting the tools available to combat these threats," Kunimoto wrote. CTAHR Dean Andrew Hashimoto said while researchers there have no plans to genetically engineer Hawaiian taro, they are investigating a Chinese variety. He said he would not oppose the bill if it were amended to impose the moratorium on Hawaiian taro only. "A 10-year moratorium on all aspects of research relating to genetically engineered taro would mean that, if taro production were threatened in the future by the arrival of new invasive pests or diseases, no genetic engineering-related research (including laboratory work) could be done to address the issue," Hashimoto said.
Kaua'i farmer Chris Kobayashi said farmers have never asked for help from the scientists and that they feel the money can be better spent by helping them researching other issues, such as organic growing or diversifying varieties. "There's all this talk about disease," Kobayashi said. "The disease can take care of itself, we don't need genetic modification." Meanwhile, she said, there is a genuine worry that genetically modified taro will cross-pollinate and contaminate the taro that she and others grow.
After mounting pressure, UH officials last year dropped its patents on three varieties of taro it had developed.
© COPYRIGHT 2007 The Honolulu Advertiser
Senate panel approves bill banning GM taro testing - 05 Feb 2007
State lawmakers this week pushed forward a bill that would ban testing and growing of genetically modified taro for a period of 10 years. Senate Bill 958 was passed Monday by the Water, Land, Agriculture, and Hawaiian Affairs Committee by a 3-1 vote. State lawmakers debated similar legislation last year, but failed to pass any law banning such research. Concern about taro stems from research by the University of Hawai'i into genetically modified taro - or kalo, in the Hawaiian language. The university has since voluntarily suspended work on genetically engineered Hawaiian taro. However, UH continues to conduct research on genetically modified Chinese Bun Long taro. That project involves inserting genes from grapevine and wheat into Chinese taro to improve fungal disease resistance.
Copyright © Honolulu Advertiser
UH cuts off funding after failing to silence agriculture professor - By HECTOR VALENZUELA and LORRIN PANG - The Maui News, 26 September 2006
For the past few years we have been speaking out for stricter regulation of genetically engineered crops. Our agency heads told us to do this on our own time and expense since our views were not the "official position." Some have asked that we not be allowed to voice private views since the public might think we speak officially. However, it is imperative that government employees be permitted to state their expert opinions, even privately, to ensure that decision makers and the public make judgments based on the whole story, rather than only on officially sanctioned views. For example, a recent U.S. Department of Agriculture internal audit report showed serious gaps in the oversight of GE crops, which could result in the unintended "escape" of unapproved organisms into the environment. Also, a federal judge ruled recently that the Hawaii Department of Agriculture failed to require environmental impact studies prior to the planting of GE biopharmaceutical crops in clear violation of federal laws. In hindsight there were probably people within these agencies who saw these regulatory system failures, but were hesitant to speak out or were even silenced. We, too, are insiders simply trying to get our agencies to uphold federal laws designed to protect us all. One would hope that we might now be encouraged to speak up. Sadly this is not the case.
At the time of the judges ruling, a Maui-based UH administrator circulated a memo to UH staff threatening to cut off support for my (Valenzuela's) organic workshops and educational activities in Maui County because I was planning to talk on crop biotechnology at a Maui event. According to this derogatory memo:
"If Hector shows up here Tuesday (as advertised) for GMO-free Maui's presentation of the "Pandora's Box" movie to lead the Q & A session with Lorrin Pang, then there will be no support of any kind out of this office to assist any workshop, activity or any other endeavor with which he is affiliated . . . It would be insane for me to assist him in Maui County - hiding behind a guise of free-speech on personal time . . . if he shows up to spew his intellectual vitriol on Tuesday (or any other time if it is for the same purpose), no assistance in any form will be provided from here on activities to which he is related. . . . It is insulting to our organization and to several of our clients. . . . There are enough nut jobs here without helping a CTAHR-grown one." CTAHR is the UH College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources at Manoa.
I did speak on Maui and support has been suspended. Ironically this questionable retaliatory move was done on taxpayer time and money. It is hoped that the memo's author will have the integrity to come forward and state his case regarding the use of retaliation and limits on First Amendment rights. Whistle-blower laws protect insiders expressing views and taking actions that uphold federal laws, but how many government employees fear repercussions and hold their tongues or even speak contrary to what they think is true? Even we sometimes tone down our opinions out of fear for our jobs. Decision-makers (legislators and judges) might be getting very distorted views of the real risks of GE crops. If government employees were encouraged rather than discouraged to speak out, what picture would decision makers get? Or if we too could speak on government time and travel expense, what then would the rulings be?
It is assumed that industry spokespersons distort the truth for financial reasons, or worse, that those in government with industry ties may be blind to the truth, which was shown to be true at the FDA. We all know about this type of conflict of interest. But how many citizens consider that the picture they are given about GMOs is distorted because insiders are silenced out of "conflict of fear?" When there are threats within regulating/scientific agencies against insiders trying to uphold federal rules, we must appeal to the courts and the public as our last resort. The public should be made aware that this is how tax dollars are spent behind the scenes in spite of the appearance of "fair play" and "openness." Henceforth we expect to be protected by whistle-blower rules. Threats of retaliation must no longer be tolerated. As David Stockman was quoted in US News magazine, it is necessary to change a system where "in policymaking, powerful interests tend to trump powerful arguments." Until this "process" is fixed we now realize that there is no sense in even arguing the science. And so, these are indeed sad days for Hawaii and America.
We are writing as private citizens.
Hector Valenzuela is a specialist in the UH College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources at Manoa.
Dr. Lorrin Pang is the state Department of Health, Maui District health officer.
GE Papaya in Hawaii - 26 June 2006 - THIRD WORLD NETWORK BIOSAFETY INFORMATION SERVICE
Dear Friends and colleagues,
RE: GE Papaya in Hawaii
We wish to bring to your attention a new report by Greenpeace which concludes that GE papaya introduced in Hawaii since 1998 has been a failure and the prospects for the industry are dim, thus contradicting claims of its success by the GE industry and other GE promoters. Quoting from statistics from the US Department of Agriculture, the report says that a decade ago in 1995, the gross value of Hawaii's fresh papaya crop was over US$22 million but today, it has declined by more than half. In 1997, before ringspot virus-resistant GE papaya were sold, farmers received an average of $1.23 per kilogram. In 1998, that figure crashed to $0.89 when traditional buyers of Hawaiian papayas, such as Japan and Canada, rejected the GE fruit. As prices declined, so has production and the area cultivated over the years. The failures in Hawaii are especially important because GE papaya is being heavily promoted in other countries, especially in Southeast Asia. It is hoped that lessons can be drawn from the Hawaiian experience so that history will not repeat itself in these countries.
The summary of the report is reproduced below. The full document can be downloaded online at: http://www.greenpeace.org/raw/content/international/press/reports/FailureGEPapayainHawaii.pdf
With best wishes,
Chee Yoke Heong, Third World Network, 131 Jalan Macalister,, 10400 Penang, Malaysia - Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Website: www.biosafety-info.net and www.twnside.org.sg
THE FAILURE OF GE PAPAYA IN HAWAII - Greenpeace International, May 2006
The ringspot virus-resistant genetically engineered (GE) papaya introduced in Hawaii in 1998 has been a commercial failure that has propelled the Islands' papaya industry towards collapse. Fewer papayas are harvested in Hawaii now than at any time in more than a generation, fewer also than during the years when the outbreak of papaya ringspot virus was at its worst. The gross value of Hawaii's fresh papaya crop was higher in 1997, the last year of non-GE production, than it has been in each and every year since.
Since 1998, US citizens have doubled their average consumption of fresh papayas. Yet in Hawaii, the total area of papayas harvested is now less than 600 hectares, a decline of 28% since the GE papaya was introduced. Ten and twenty years ago, nearly twice the amount of acreage was harvested. On average, farmers now receive 35% less per kilogram for their fruit than they did before the GE papaya was released.
Despite these grim statistics from the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), the genetic engineering industry and its allies insist that the GE papaya has been a success. The American Farm Bureau says that it is "a dramatic success for biotechnology"  that, Monsanto proclaims, "is credited with saving Hawaii's papaya industry."  In reality, genetic engineering has not saved an industry - it has accelerated the decline of Hawaiian papayas. While other market factors have to be taken into account as well, the introduction of GE papaya poses a significant and unique market disadvantage and certainly hasn't saved the Hawaiian industry. Arguably, the only real beneficiaries of the GE papaya in Hawaii are a few large companies in a concentrated industry that frequently relies on tenant farmers who don't own the land that they work.
For organic farmers, GE papayas have been a source of problems. The burden of defending against contamination from GE papaya pollen has been unfairly foisted upon those who seek to produce papayas most sustainably.
The truth about the failures in Hawaii is especially important because of the pressure that the US is exerting on other countries, especially in Southeast Asia, to permit GE papaya on their land. GE papaya promoters such as the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the genetic engineering industry association the International Service for the Acquisition of Agribiotech Applications (ISAAA) claim that it has been a success and, based upon that dubious assertion, they urge countries such as Thailand, the Philippines, and Indonesia to open their farms to the genetically engineered fruit.
Yet the 'success' of the GE papaya is largely a fiction dreamed up and promoted by its inventors and by a few large Hawaiian Papaya businesses that have trapped themselves in a cycle of genetic engineering use. If they do not succeed in convincing Asian countries to plant and eat the GE papaya, then the Hawaiian industry will likely continue to spiral downward - a collapse being caused by its own self-inflicted GE experiment. This is due to almost universal consumer and market rejection, with a clear preference for non-GE and organic papaya. There is also, sensibly, no regulatory approval for GE papaya import to key markets, e.g. Japan & the 25 countries of the EU.
Hawaii's papaya industry has a product that consumers do not want and also has strong competition from papaya producing countries in South East Asia or Latin America. Mexican papaya, for example, is more widely consumed in mainland USA than the Hawaiian one.
© OLGA SHELEGO
 Truelsen, J. 2003. Biotechnology saves Hawaii papaya industry. American Farm Bureau News, 26 May 2003.
 Monsanto. Monsanto Hawaii: Agricultural Biotech in the Islands. - http://www.monsanto.com/monsanto/layout/about_us/locations/us/hawaii/agr_biotech.asp - accessed 17 January 2006.
Hawaiian Papaya: GMO Contaminated - By Melanie Bondera & Mark Query - Hawaii SEED 2006 - www.gmofreehawaii.org
Click here for the full 19 page report in Adobe PDF format http://www.gmofreemaui.com/press_releases/Contamination_Report.pdf
In 1998, the first GMO1 Papaya was commercially released into Hawaii' growing environment. Dr. Dennis Gonsalves and Dr. Richard Manshardt created this papaya ringspot virus (PRSV) resistant GMO fruit vtechnology has come with too many strings attached and Hawaii has lost almost half of its papaya farmers.
Another unintended problem is GMO contamination. In 2003, GMO Free Hawaii became very concerned with the gene flow of the GMO Papaya. First, we used the GUS gene test to see how much contamination was on our farms and in our community. After consistently finding 30-50% of the seeds and leaves we tested having some kind of air or seed contamination, we wanted to know more. We put out calls for independent, peer-reviewed academic studies to examine the levels of this GMO Papaya contamination, to no avail. In 2004, GMO Free Hawaii designed a study to look at the extent of GMO contamination around the state.
The methodology of this Pilot Survey included three composite samples of approximately 10,000 seeds from around the islands (Hawaii, Oahu, Kauai) being collected from non-GMO growing locations such as organic and conventional farms, backyard gardens and feral roadsides. Two composite samples each of seeds and leaves from organic farms were collected on Hawaii and Kauai. Three samples of University of Hawaii non-GMO seed varieties were purchased directly. Seeds and leaves were sent to an independent laboratory, Genetic ID, for PCR (Polymerase Chain Reaction) industry standard testing.The results indicate massive GMO contamination of papaya seeds on Hawaii Island, of the order of 50%, substantial GMO contamination on Oahu (<5%) and thankfully, only traces of contamination on Kauai (0.0%). Both organic farms tested had no GMO trees unintentionally planted, but sadly, were discovered to have air contamination of the seeds in their fruits (<5% on Hawaii Island and 0.01% on Kauai). Most shocking was the GMO contamination of the University of Hawaii?s non-GMO papaya seed supply (Waimanolo Solo variety) at greater than 0.01% but less than 0.1%.
In 2006, we repeated this last test and found the Waimanalo Solo to still be GMO contaminated at the same percentage. As the University of Hawaii claims not to be growing this seed near GMO Papaya trees, they must have untested GMO trees in their non-GMO orchards or not be bagging the flowers properly to keep out unwanted GMO pollen.
The two main routes of GMO contamination appear to be air and seed contamination. Air contamination refers to GMO contamination of the seeds by GMO pollen flow traveling by wind, insect, animal or human. Flesh of the fruit may be non-GMO while any number of seeds inside may be GMO. Seed contamination refers to unintended GMO contamination of the traditional seed supply leading to unintended GMO trees, which have GMO leaves, fruit flesh, and at least three quarters GMO seeds. Most concerning has been the loss of lucrative export and organic markets caused by the GMO Papaya contamination leading to expensive testing and roguing to non-GMO Papaya growers.
The University of Hawaii and Pacific Research Basin have responded inadequately to the news of our test results. Their insufficient attempts at follow-up studies have included testing too few UH seeds to provide statistically significant results, a pollen study by an undergraduate on the island with the least contamination and a promise of a study by Carol Gonsalves (Dr. Gonsalves? wife) that has not materialized. Promises of GUS testing for papayas being available to farmers and gardeners through the Cooperative Extension service have not materialized either. Finally, no attempts at GMO Papaya clean-up by the responsible institutions have been made, to date.
Finally, this pilot study shows more GMO Papaya contamination than anyone expected. Our recommendations include:
1.Governments around the globe should not introduce the GMO Papaya into any new growing regions. Even as a field trial, GMO Papaya cannot be contained.
2.Considering the adverse consequences of the GMO Papaya, the Hawaii Department of Agriculture should not commercially release any more GMO crops in Hawaii.
3.The University of Hawaii should clean up the GMO contamination in their non-GMO papaya seeds before selling any more.
4.GMO Papaya testing should be offered to Hawaii Island farmers and gardeners either free of charge or at a nominal cost by the University of Hawaii and PBARC/USDA (Pacific Basin Agriculture Research Center/United States Department of Agriculture), so they can rogue out GMO Papaya contamination.
5.Education about using traditional and alternative methods of Papaya ringspot virus management including introducing PRSV tolerant varieties should be actively offered to farmers by the University of Hawaii and PBARC/USDA.
6.An independent peer-reviewed study examining the full extent of the GMO Papaya contamination in Hawaii should be authorized by the Hawaii Department of Agriculture.
7.An independent peer-reviewed study examining the possible health effects on humans of the GMO Papaya consumption should be authorized by the Hawaii Department of Agriculture.
Click here for the full 19 page report in Adobe PDF format. - http://www.gmofreemaui.com/press_releases/Contamination_Report.pdf
Group: UH seeds still GMO tainted - By Robbie Dingeman - Honolulu Advertiser, May 23 2006
A statewide group of farmers and community members who oppose genetically engineered plants said yesterday that some engineered papaya seeds are still mixed in with packets of papaya seeds being sold by the University of Hawai'i. The group is concerned that the seed supply is still contaminated after the problem was flagged two years ago, and that this could create major problems for organic farmers. A report titled "Hawaiian Papaya: GMO (genetically modified organisms) Contaminated," written by Melanie Bondera and Mark Query, said that the group bought three samples of 10,000 seeds of Solo Waimanalo, Solo Sunset and Solo Sunrise papayas and sent them to the Genetic ID laboratory. Bondera said there were between one and 10 GMO seeds in the Solo Waimanalo sample and none in the other two. Although that number seems very small, she said, it has the potential to expand exponentially, if each of those became a tree that put out one to two fruits a week, and each fruit averages at least 100 seeds that could grow into other trees.
Professor Richard Manshardt, of the University of Hawai'i's Department of Tropical Plant and Soil Sciences, is one of those credited with genetically engineering papaya to be resistant to the papaya ringspot virus, which cannot be treated with chemicals. Manshardt said he understands the concerns that such seed could be sent overseas where such papayas are illegal. And organic farmers want to be able to assure consumers that no genetically modified plants have mixed with their crops. He said UH does work to avoid contamination by growing papaya in different areas of the farm "so that we don't get direct contact between different varieties." He said the Hawai'i Seed study may be examining seeds from the same batch as an earlier study that pointed to wider contamination. "It's quite likely that it's the same seed batch that was tested in 2004."
Stephanie Whalen, of the Hawai'i Agricultural Research Center, said the industry-accepted seed standards do not guarantee 100 percent purity. But Whalen said organic farmers can follow other safeguards spelled out by UH to avoid genetically engineered seed. "The organic growers here have been told how to produce their own seed," Whalen said. "Each farmer could take very simple measures to produce his/her own seed." And Whalen said since the amount of acreage now in organic farming is fairly small, "only a few flowers would need to be bagged and protected for seed. This is a very inexpensive and reliable method for the farmer." Whalen said the ideal study would be for a third-party lab to do the testing.
Bondera runs a small organic farm on the Big Island and serves as a spokesperson of Hawai'i Seed, formerly GMO Free Hawaii. "We're concerned that they are hurting farmers instead of helping them," she said.
Hawaiian papaya: market loss and contamination - By MELANIE BONDERA - Bangkok Post, 27 April 2006
Why do creators of the genetically-engineered (GE) papaya fruit have to push so hard to introduce it? If the GE papaya is really a simple solution to a major agricultural disease that farmers want, it would be readily adopted by governments, farmers and markets. However, it is not. The concern over this genetically modified orgnanism (GMO) food is so great, that it creates resistance, loss of markets, contamination and more loss of markets. In Thailand, the government has a ban on field trials and hasn't commercially released the papaya after almost a decade of testing. Farmers have shown resistance and expressed concern that the European Union and Japan don't want to import the GM papaya.
In Jamaica, the GM papaya was never commercially released after many years of field trials as the primary export market is the EU, which does not tolerate GM papaya. In Venezuela, field trials were cancelled after a medical doctor advised the public against eating GM papaya. Attempts to release the GM papaya in such diverse places as Mexico, Australia, Taiwan and Brazil have all been thwarted by governments and farmers who fear market loss and contamination.
In Hawaii, despite a major epidemic of ring spot virus, it took heavy pressure and combating farmer resistance to introduce the GM papaya. The University of Hawaii and the US Department of Agriculture could have aggressively educated or required the farmers in the Puna growing area on the island of Hawaii to chop down and burn all virus-infected trees. The reduction of the virus would have kept the disease at its usual endemic levels and not allowed it to reach the epidemic. Farmers could also have been advised not to grow in huge plantations, to intercrop, to use soil amendments to grow healthier trees, plant trap-crops for the aphid vector, and spray or spread silicates to block aphid penetration of leaves. The amount of time and money to do this would have been far less than the efforts to force the introduction of the GM papaya.
In order to get the GM papaya introduced, the big papaya packing companies who ship to Japan, Hawaii's most lucrative papaya market, had asked the legislature to require the University of Hawaii to aggressively educate the little papaya farmers who ring the big farms (who sell non-GM fruit to Japan) to chop down their trees and plant GM trees. These large, powerful growers didn't want to grow GM papaya. They wanted the little farmers to be the buffer zone to protect them from the virus. This caused the little farmers to form a group called the Papaya Freedom Fighters to fight this forced introduction of GM papaya. There were close to 200 papaya farmers in the main growing area at the time of introduction and 150 members of the Papaya Freedom Fighters at their peak. This group experienced various kinds of threats from the forces introducing the GM papaya.
From 1998, the commercial release of the GM papaya in Hawaii until now, we've lost half of our papaya farmers. The primary reason is the GM papaya has never been worth as much as the non-GM fruit. Our biggest loss is much of the Japanese market. They were 60% of Hawaii's market at the time of the introduction of the GM papaya and they slammed the door shut on GMOs. Despite government assurances, they have never reopened that in seven years. Even if they did, consumer rejection in food contamination-sensitive Japan is almost assured.
Canada shut down their market. They reopened it five years later to GM papaya, but it remains a small sliver of our market. Some GM papayas go to the US mainland, but that market is primarily held by Mexico and Brazil. Most GM papayas are dumped on the local market here in Hawaii, unlabelled.
Marketing GM papayas in Hawaii unlabelled, has been the biggest source of contamination. The proponents of the GM papaya like to focus the discussion of contamination issues around pollen. This is a diversionary tactic. Each genetically modified papaya, purchased and eaten, leaves 100-500 GM seeds to be thrown out into our environmentally-planted areas. To legally farm GM papaya, you have to buy the seed from the university, sign a contract and watch a video on buffer zones to prevent pollen escape. Most consumers have accidentally planted many more, just by eating papaya for breakfast regularly.
GMO Free Hawaii began testing papayas in 2003 for farmers and gardeners who didn't want GM papayas and consistently found 30-50% GM contaminated papayas in places they shouldn't be. In 2004, GMO Free Hawaii did a pilot Contamination Study to bring to light this contamination and call for further in-depth studies. With independent PCR testing, we found 50% contamination on the island within the major growing area, 5% contamination on Oahu and the University of Hawaii's seed supply contaminated at 1%.
Organic farmers started testing and were shocked to find contamination on their farms. This led to market loss and often the chopping down of trees in efforts to decontaminate. Toi Lahti lost three separate markets and his seed line, which he'd been developing for 17 years. GMO are not allowed in organic production in the US. Many organic farmers are choosing to grow other crops as it is no longer possible to grow organic papaya in Hawaii.
The farmers and big papaya packers who still sell non-GM papaya to Japan, have to spend a lot of time and labour testing papayas to prove they are not contaminated. Each tree and each shipment need testing and the Department of Agriculture verifies by testing 1% of each of those. This is a fragile system which still allows for some GM-contaminated fruits and many GM-contaminated seeds to get through.
Japan may at any point lose patience with this contamination and look for papayas from another country which has protected its growing areas from the rampant GM contamination of papaya that we have here in Hawaii.
Melanie Bondera is a farmer on Kanalani Ohana Farm, on the Big Island of Hawaii. She works with GMO Free Hawaii on the problems of GM papaya in Hawaii.
Papaya production taking a tumble - by Sean Hao - The Honolulu Adviser, 19 Mar 2006
Hawai'i papaya production sank to a more than 25-year low last year despite record demand among U.S. consumers for the tropical fruit. Americans on average now eat 1 pound of papaya annually, which is up from less than one-third of a pound just 10 years ago. That should bode well for growers of Hawai'i's second largest fruit crop. However, last year papaya production fell 17 percent to 28.5 million pounds, the smallest crop since before 1980. Sales dipped 14 percent to $10.6 million, the lowest amount since 1985. Imports from countries such as Mexico and Brazil are helping to fill America's increasing appetite for papaya. Hawai'i's papaya farmers, as with most farmers on the Islands, are dealing with a long list of challenges, including foreign competition, high costs, fickle weather, insects and disease.
"Plenty of people are not growing papaya anymore," said Alberto Belmes, who grows papaya on about 70 acres of land seven miles outside of Hilo. "The price is going down and still the costs of farming goes up." Unlike most other Hawai'i farmers, papaya growers have one other issue with which to deal. Many Hawai'i papaya growers are raising a genetically engineered product that has yet to generate the market acceptance and higher sales prices that non-genetically modified papayas command. Japan, for example, does not accept genetically modified papaya. Papaya growers elsewhere are not using the genetically modified product.
Developed in part by the University of Hawai'i, the genetically modified papaya was designed to be resistant to ring spot virus, which results in fewer and lower quality fruit. The virus was first detected in 1992 on the Big Island, where the bulk of papayas are grown. The genetically modified papaya was introduced in 1998. Papaya production picked up that year and for the following three years. In 2002, production resumed its slide and has declined each year since. Genetically modified papaya proponents argue that there would be no papaya industry if not for the new variety. They also point out that the widespread use of genetically modified papaya helps control the virus, so non-genetically modified papaya can be grown virus-free. "I've seen the (Big Island papaya) industry go down from the first day it was infected in 1992," said Dennis Gonsalves, an inventor of the genetically modified papaya and director for the USDA Pacific Basin Agricultural Research Center in Hilo. "If you kept the situation like that the curve would have gone down until it was no longer feasible to grow."
Environmentalists and other critics contend the virus could have been managed in part by reducing the size of plantings and by diversifying the types of plants grown at any one time. While the genetically modified papaya may reduce problems with the ring spot virus, it introduced other problems by raising the risk of cross-pollination with non-genetically modified and organic papayas. Proponents contend the risks of cross-pollination are manageable. Nevertheless, the use of genetically modified papaya in Hawai'i results in a more rigorous testing regime for non-modified papaya to maintain exports to markets that don't accept genetically modified papayas, said Melanie Bondera, a board member for Hawaii Seed, an advocate for sustainable agriculture and a GMO-free Hawai'i. The genetically modified papaya did not save the industry as its backers contend, Bondera said. "They're apparently not looking at the bigger picture of the economic problems that come with it -- the cross-contamination, the market loss, the testing costs," Bondera said. "Did we really have a problem that would have killed the industry if we did not have the GMO (genetically modified organism) papaya? That's their contention. The bottom line is the GMO papaya has never sold for as much as the non-GMO papaya."
Because Japan doesn't allow imports of genetically modified papayas, Hawai'i exports of papaya to Japan fell from $10.3 million in 1998 to $4.6 million last year, according to the Foreign Trade Zone Division of the state Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism. During that time, sales to the second largest importer of Hawai'i papayas - Canada, which accepts the genetically modified product - more than doubled to $2.6 million last year. "In this sense you can say that the GMO is not any good, but you would not even have a market in Japan without GMO papaya," said Gonsalves.
Canada, Hawai'i and the U.S. Mainland remain big buyers of genetically modified papayas. There are no requirements that genetically modified foods be labeled as such. In Hawai'i, the Kapoho variety of papaya is not genetically modified, while the Rainbow variant is. With all the challenges facing papaya, the fruit's rank among major Hawaiian crops is slipping. In 2004, algae, which is used as a nutritional supplement, displaced papaya as the state's eighth largest commodity with sales of $12.6 million. Papaya was pushed down to ninth place with sales of $12.3 million. State officials are still urging Japan to accept genetically modified papayas. Meanwhile, some people downplay the ban's impact. "We don't have to get into Japan, if we can get into the U.S.," said Stephanie Whalen, president of the the Hawaii Agriculture Research Center, which provides seeds for genetically modified papaya trees. Hawai'i's efforts to expand its share of the Mainland market for papaya has been hampered by several factors including difficulties establishing a genetically modified papaya seed production and payment program, Whalen added. "The problem is we have small industries that are very difficult to organize," she said. "There's a whole education and learning process that has to grow and develop."
Lawmakers Push Limits on Crop Modification - ABC News, March 02, 2006 - http://www.wjla.com/news/stories/0306/307276.html
HONOLULU (AP) - State senators have advanced two bills putting limits on the genetic modification of taro and coffee, crops that are key to Hawaii's identity. The bills that passed out of a dual committee meeting Wednesday would ban until 2011 the field testing of strains of both plants that have been engineered or spliced with the genes of other organisms. The modified plants could, however, be grown in greenhouses.
The taro bill also would place a five-year ban on genetically modifying Hawaiian varieties of the plant, whose roots are made into poi, one of the state's best-known foods. In Hawaiian folklore, taro is considered to be a sacred ancestor of Native Hawaiians, linking them to island soil. Coffee, particularly from the Big Island's Kona region, is a point of pride for the islands, which are home to the only U.S. commercial coffee plantations. The original bills called for a decade-long moratorium on raising and testing genetically modified varieties of both plants. Amended versions now head to the full Senate.
Last year, senators tabled a group of measures seeking to address farmers' fears of potential crop contamination by the pollen of genetically modified varieties. Nancy Redfeather, co-director of Hawaii Genetic Engineering Action Network, said the bills' passage at the committee level was a positive sign that the Legislature is addressing questions about genetically modified crops. C.Y. Hu, associate dean and associate director for research at the University of Hawaii College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources, said the limits would tie researchers hands in the event a virus strikes island crops.
Genetically modified seeds were credited with saving Hawaii's $14-million-a-year papaya industry when it was struck by a ruinous virus in the late 1990s. Sen. Gary Hooser, a Democrat and lead sponsor of the bills, said lawmakers hoped to allow science to proceed while protecting farmers.
Patents on taro hybrids protested - By Mark Niesse - Associated Press, January 14, 2006 - http://the.honoluluadvertiser.com/article/2006/Jan/14/ln/FP601140343.html
The taro plant, used to make poi, is a sacred ancestor of the Hawaiian people that can't be owned, protesters said yesterday. Activists and farmers urged the University of Hawai'i to give up three of its patents on varieties of taro genetically enhanced by crossbreeding. About 20 people rallied in a small field of taro growing on the university's Manoa campus. "The taro is our ancestor. It's not a commodity," said longtime Hawaiian activist Walter Ritte. "The University of Hawai'i cannot own our ancestors. They're setting the precedent for the rest of the world to come here and start patenting things." According to Hawaiian belief, the cosmic first couple gave birth to a stillborn, Haloa, from whose gnarled body sprang the broad-leafed plant whose bulb-like corms are ground into one of Hawai'i's best-known foods. The Hawaiian people, it is believed, came from a second brother, making the plant part of their common ancestry.
The three lines of taro patented by the University of Hawai'i share a lineage that dates to the Polynesian taro first brought to the Islands centuries ago, Ritte said. Since the fourth or fifth century, taro has been crossbred thousands of times by Hawaiian farmers to create new strains of the plant. "The idea that one generation of people could claim ownership of something that's much older than we are is ridiculous," said David Strauch, a taro farmer who grows traditional varieties on O'ahu. "Taro is so central to Hawaiian culture."
A spokeswoman for the college where the scientists did their work on taro said their varieties of taro are distinct from those found naturally. These three types of taro are more resistant to leaf blight and root rot, and they grow bigger than wild varieties, according to the 2002 patent applications. "They took something that wasn't working 100 percent, and they basically came out with a new variety," said Ania Wieczorek, spokeswoman for the College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources. "This isn't just something found in the wild. They took something and made it much better."
Ritte claimed in a letter to the dean of the college that patents should not have been granted for these genetically enhanced plants. He wrote that the patents were given in 2002 based on preliminary observations that have not been confirmed by controlled experiments. The patents require farmers who use these varieties to pay licensing fees to the university and to let officials onto their property to study the plants. Farmers may not sell the seeds. It would be up to the scientists who own the patents to revoke them, Wieczorek said. Ritte said that if they do not give up these taro patents, he plans to take legal action before the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. Ritte has gone to battle with the university before over the genetic modification of taro. As a result, the university agreed in May to stop experiments on Hawaiian varieties of taro because of cultural concerns that it was tampering with native species.
GMO activists march at meeting site - November 4 2005 - http://www.mauinews.com/story.aspx?id=13937
HOOLEHUA, Molokai - About 20 protesters of genetically modified organisms in farm operations on Molokai were allowed into a company meeting of Monsanto Hawaiian Research on Thursday, but they left when they couldn't get answers from executives. Despite that, Walter Ritte, spokesman for the community group that organized the demonstration, said he still thought their message got through. "I think we got a lot of people asking, 'What are GMOs?' and 'What are they doing in our fields??'" said Ritte. A representative of Monsanto on Molokai could not be reached for comment.
Ritte said members of Hui Ho'opakele 'Aina ("Rescue the Land") were allowed to enter the Hoolehua Recreation Center where Monsanto employees were meeting with executives from the Mainland. When they weren't permitted to ask their questions, Ritte said the protesters began marching around the room with their signs. "I apologized to them if we disturbed them, but we felt we had been lied to because they said we could ask our questions," said Ritte. The group wanted to ask Monsanto if GMOs were being grown on Molokai and would company representatives agree to sit down with the community to talk more about the subject. GMOs are crops that have had genetic material inserted in seeds to produce plants that have qualities that promote productivity, including resistance to diseases and pesticides.
Ritte said Hui Ho'opakele 'Aina still had hopes it could convince representatives of the other seed company on the island, Dow/Mycogen, to meet with residents. But the group wasn't ready to give up on Monsanto, either. "We're going to keep going after Monsanto to tell us what they're doing with their secret little factories," said Ritte. Earlier this week, a spokesman for Monsanto Hawaiian Research said meetings have been held with the Molokai community. Hui Ho'opakele 'Aina was organized to deal with other issues that members felt would adversely affect the community on Molokai, including questions raised three years ago over the impact of large cruise ships landing passengers at the Kaunakakai Wharf.
GMO in Hawaii gets stirred up on Molokai Ron Mizutani - Khon 2 News, November 3, 2005 - http://khon.com/khon/display.cfm?storyID=8616&sid=1152
The controversial issue of genetically modified crops in Hawaii took center stage on Thursday on Molokai. A town meeting briefly heated up after protesters stepped forward. Executives from Monsanto wanted to hear from residents about their concerns over bio-tech research that's been going on for many years. On Thursday, they got what they wanted.
Genetically modified crops of corn in Kaunakakai have Molokai residents divided. "It's very hard because you looking at people that you love, that you care about, and they stay on the other side," says Hano Naehu, Molokai resident. The research companies provide much needed jobs. "It's the main thing you get job in Molokai because sometimes Molokai don't have too much jobs, so how we going to feed our family if no more job?" asks William Casino, Monsanto employee.
"We are developing GMO crops here, or bio-tech -- better stated, bio-tech crops -- and we are proud of that," says Ray Foster, Monsanto/Hawaiian research general manager. But some feel the crops are creating questions. "We have concerns. These concerns have been pushed under the rug, and everything that's being grown is a big secret," says Walter Ritte, Molokai resident. About a dozen people protested as Monsanto executives arrive for a town meeting. "We wanted to come now to raise the red flag and get people to ask, 'well what is a GMO, what is going on?'" says Ritte. A majority of the estimated 150 people who were in attendance were employees. Many of them were bussed in. Inside, as executives start to share information, the protesters step forward. "This is Molokai, brah, not only what you guys went hire," says Naehu.
"Nobody is telling us anything. We're afraid for our health, we're afraid for our children's health, the cornfields surround our town," says Ritte. "Half of us don't even know what a GMO is. We don't even know what we're growing over here." So we ask a couple of workers. "Do you know what a GMO is? Yeah, we know something with chemicals or something," says Casino.
"We're very proud of what we do, and we welcome the questions," says Foster. "We've been planting biotech's products now for 10 years. We've planted over a billion acres, and so there hasn't been one case of harm to people or the environment."
The State Health Department says there's no proof genetically modified crops are dangerous to the people of Hawaii or any place where they're being tested.
Biotech firm touts record in face of Molokai protest - By Gary T. Kubota - Star Bulletin, November 4 2005 - http://starbulletin.com/2005/11/04/news/story12.html
Native Hawaiian protesters demonstrated yesterday against growing genetically altered corn on Molokai. Hui Ho'opakela Aina spokesman Walter Ritte said Hawaiian Research's activity threatens the community's health, organic farming and medicinal Hawaiian plants, such as the uhaoloa shrub whose roots are used to treat congestion in children. "Their secret GMO (genetically modified organisms) experiments in the corn fields surrounding our town is dangerous to our lives and is unacceptable," Ritte said. Ritte said the 20 protesters demonstrated their objections at a lunch sponsored by Hawaiian Research to discuss worries expressed by the community. Hawaiian Research, which employs about 140 full- and part-time employees, started on Molokai in 1968 and became a part of the Monsanto Co. in 2000. The company develops seed corn in fields near the eastern and western edge of Kaunakakai town.
Hawaiian Research manager Ray Foster said the business is very proud that in the 10 years that biotech crops have been commercially grown, there has not been one single documented case of any health issue anywhere in the world caused by the technology. "I don't think we could have wished for a better record," he said. Foster said there is a growing body of evidence that shows the biotech crops could actually help reduce illnesses and deaths. "Some of the newer plant varieties being developed now will have higher levels of vitamins or Omega 3 fatty acids that can help fight vitamin A deficiencies and cardiovascular disease," Foster said. Foster said 100 percent of the biotech crops on Molokai are corn, which can only cross-pollinate with another corn plant and not any known native species. He said the business also plants fields far apart from other fields and at different times, and also bag the tassels so the pollen can't go elsewhere. Foster said agricultural biotechnology has been endorsed by a number of health and medical organizations, including the National Academy of Sciences, American College of Nutrition, and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
Ritte said the plants grown by Monsanto are not normal corn plants but genetically modified. "Nobody knows what the reaction of these modifications are," Ritte said. "That's why they call it research. We're not guinea pigs. We are not lab rats."
UH vows to hold off genetic tests with Hawaiian taro - Researchers will consult with native Hawaiians on cultural concerns - By Diana Leone - email@example.com
Hawaiian varieties of taro will not be used in any University of Hawaii genetic engineering research until native Hawaiians advise scientists about cultural concerns, a university dean said yesterday. The promise is an attempt to stave off controversy and foster dialogue between the university and the native Hawaiian community, said Andrew Hashimoto, dean of the College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources. The dialogue is expected to take place through a process being organized by the Royal Order of Kamehameha on all islands. To solidify the promise, Hashimoto signed a one-page statement about the university's intentions with taro research yesterday at a taro patch at the UH Center for Hawaiian Studies. "We have encountered perceptions in the community that CTAHR's taro research focuses entirely on genetic engineering and that the college sells or gives away genetically engineered taro huli (shoots). These perceptions are incorrect," the statement said. "The CTAHR scientists currently involved in genetic engineering research on taro have no plans to modify Hawaiian taro varieties." The only ongoing genetic engineering of taro at the UH is of a Chinese variety and is being done only in a lab setting, not in greenhouses or open fields, Hashimoto said.
Genetic engineering involves the placement of a gene from one species of plant or animal into a different species. For example a disease-resistant gene in rice could be added to taro. Genetic engineering is much faster than traditional cross-breeding, Hashimoto said. Opponents of genetic engineering worry that open-field test crops could escape test plots and affect native plants or other nongenetically engineered crops nearby, said Kat Brady of the environmental group Life of the Land. But for taro, the cultural factor is an additional concern.
The connection between Hawaiians and taro goes beyond its historical use as a staple food to a "mystical, mythological parable that all Hawaiians are attached," said kumu John Lake, who chanted in Hawaiian, then spoke in English at yesterday's event. "Kalo (taro) is intrinsically part and parcel of Hawaiians and of ohana," he said. In Hawaiian mythology, the gods Wakea and Ho'ohokukalani's first child, Haloanakalaukapalili, was stillborn. When he was buried in the ground, he became the first taro plant, said Nalei Kahakalau, a teacher at the Big Island public charter school Kanu O Ka Aina. The couple's next child, Haloa, was the founder of the Hawaiian people, according to the legend. Visiting students from the Big Island charter school chanted about the legend for those attending the event.
The prospect of genetically altering taro is "kind of scary," said Ernest Tottori, president of Honolulu Poi Co., one of the islands' largest taro growers and processors. For example, taro is known to be tolerated by people with allergies to wheat and rice, but Tottori asked what if it lost that quality under genetic engineering? "You want to be very cautious about anything like that," he said.
Anyone with concerns about genetic engineering of Hawaiian taro varieties can contact William Souza, of the Royal Order of Kamehameha, at 282-6005, or Andrew Hashimoto, dean of the University of Hawaii College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources, at 956-8234.
State Rejects Proposal For Genetically Engineered Algae - Hawaii Channel, May 24, 2005 - http://www.thehawaiichannel.com/news/4527896/detail.html
HONOLULU - A local biotechnology company's plans to grow a genetically engineered strain of algae ran into a roadblock Tuesday. Mera Pharmaceuticals wanted to bring the algae to its facilities in Kailua-Kona, to see if it can be grown in large quantities. The company needed approval from the state Board of Agriculture to bring the algae to the islands. Mera said the algae can be grown to develop therapeutic drugs for such conditions as herpes and tumors. Company officials said it would not be able to harm the environment if samples got out of its facility. "The proof is in the pudding. Algae did not escape and invade an environment. It's very tough for them. It's actually very tough to grow them in large scale," said Dr. Miguel Olaizola of Mera Pharmaceuticals. However, opponents are not convinced. "Really they haven't had a good look yet at whether this can escape into the wild, whether it can survive in the wild, in fresh water, and whether there might be any health or environmental concerns, any impacts," project opponent Elisha Goodman said. The board voted 6-3 against the company's request. Mera has applied to bring seven other algae strains to Hawaii Islands. The board expects to handle that issue at a later meeting.
GMO Resolution Passed During the 2004 Democratic State Convention of the State of Hawaii
Democratic Party (Hawaii) - REGULATION of GMO (Genetically Modified Organisms)
Whereas, Hawai'i Senate Bill 726 (1993) stipulates that environmental assessment is a prerequisite for introduction of genetically modified organisms in the State of Hawai'i, and
Whereas, genetically modified organisms and crops have been introduced to the State of Hawai'i through research at the Pacific Basin Agricultural Research Center as well as through seeds sold commercially without the stipulated environmental assessment, and,
Whereas, wind, birds and insects carry the pollen of genetically modified crops onto adjacent areas, altering non-modified crops, including certified organically grown crops and heirloom seed species, and
Whereas, farmers specializing in organic, non-GMO produce lose their certification if their crops are contaminated by genetically engineered organisms, and
Whereas, instead of being held liable for damages incurred by encroaching upon the neighboring crops, biotech companies are suing neighboring farmers for theft of intellectual property, thereby bankrupting the neighboring farmers, and
Whereas, citing risks to public health, the environment and the agricultural economy, many countries including those in the Common Market, and Australia, prohibit the importation, cultivation and testing of biotech produce and food products, and other countries, including India, are now considering similar measures, and
Whereas, biotech genes are created by inserting genes from other species by means of viruses, creating not only new species whose effect on the entire environment is unknown and in some instances has already found to be detrimental, but mutations in viruses that might never have occurred in billions of years, which could result in widespread epidemics involving enormous suffering and loss of life, and
Whereas, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has recommended the formation of community review boards to monitor genetically modified crops and their impact, and
Whereas, the State of Hawai'i has allowed more field testing of biotech crops than any other state in the nation, and
Whereas, Hawai'i's native ecosystems are already challenged by invasive species to the point that many native plants and animals are close to extinction, and many are already extinct, therefore
Whereas, biotech breakthroughs of GMO plants are developing faster than studies can be done to confirm safety to health, agriculture and the environment, and
Whereas, the great deal of uncertainty regarding long term possibly irreversible effects of GMO crops mandates the use of the precautionary principle: All products are presumed to be ineffective and toxic until empirical data proves (on a case by case basis) otherwise, and
Whereas, regulatory agencies are not requiring adequate safety data from these industries prior to marketing or field trials and therefore there are no incentives for industry to sponsor safety studies, and Whereas, there is a serious potential for, and appearance of, conflict of interest among industry, regulatory agencies and university departments receiving industry research grants. Potential benefits may be overstated and potential risks downplayed, and
Whereas, there is an urgent need for coordination among federal, state and county agencies (health, agriculture and environment) to examine, learn and agree on the truth about GM crops. Once should not let industry set policy, and
Whereas, as in other areas of health, agriculture and environment local decisions pre-empt federal ones if they are more conservative (following the precautionary principle), now therefore,
Be it resolved, that Regulatory agencies be established at both the state and country levels similar to federally mandated FDA hospital Institutional Review Boards t evaluated the safety of each independent genetic modification. No member of the Review Board shall have conflict of interest in the technology being evaluated. The Review board shall include representatives from environmental organizations and the Hawai'i Organic Farmers Association. the Review Board shall:
1) Establish guidelines for safety as related to health (occupational and community), environment and agriculture 2) Approve/reject all GM crops to be planted in communities 3) Establish a community monitoring board in each county (also with no conflict of interest) to monitor the impact of field grown genetically modified organisms. 4) Enforce regulations and required safety procedures; and
Be it further resolved, that state and county agencies promote examination of GM product safety by: 1) Requiring permit and fees of the research organizations applying for approval that will fund the cost of safety studies, 2) Identifying institutions (including international agencies) without conflict of interest to conduct safety assessments, 3) Insuring that regulatory boards require adequate safety studies prior to marketing and open field testing, 4) Holding GM companies liable for negative impacts which should have been detected prior to field or market release, 5) Investigating post-marketing complaints of negative impacts associated with GM products (to facilitate these investigations, labeling of GM products should be required): and
Be It Further Resolved that all open air testing of biotech crops be suspended in the State of Hawai'i until the review board described above is operational; and
Be It Further Resolved that biotech agriculture and manufacture be suspended in the State of Hawai'i to protect our farmers, our Hawai'ian crops and native biota, and our people; and
Be It Further Resolved, that in litigation arising from open air testing of biotech crops that the liability rest with the person or organization responsible for planting the biotech crops in question, as well as with the manufacturer of the biotech seeds; and
Be It Further Resolved, that a community-review board (including representatives from environmental organizations and the Hawai'i Organic Farmers Association) be created in each county to monitor the impact of genetically modified organisms; and
Be It Further Resolved, that the Democratic Party requests that the State of Hawai'i limit public funding of research on biotech crops to research conducted in the confines of enclosed laboratories until approved by the review board; and
Be It Further Resolved that that all genetically engineered foods and food products (such as leavening agents) be clearly marked as such so that consumers know that they are buying; and
Be It Further Resolved that that the Democratic Party of Hawai'i urge the State and Counties to enact legislation that implements this resolution; and
Be It Further Resolved that copies of this resolution be sent to all members of the Hawai'i State Legislature, the County Councils, the Governor of the State of Hawai'i , the County Mayors, and the Hawai'i Congressional Delegation.
In another sign of burgeoning resistance in the USA, Hawaii's coffee growers have united in a call to stop GM coffee being introduced into the state. Hawaii is often cited as pro-GM state but the letter and Resolution below come from all of Hawaii's coffee growers who are opposing not only the commercial growing of GM coffee in the state but also any GM coffee field or greenhouse tests. The growers are calling on the Department of Agriculture and the University of Hawaii to do their job and protect the Hawaii coffee industry.
Thanks for this news to Eloise Engman at GMOfreemaui@hawaii.rr.com
Sandra Lee Kunimoto
Dept of Agriculture
State of Hawaii
1428 South King St.
Honolulu, HI 96814
March 4, 2004
Enclosed is a copy of the resolution that was agreed upon at the Hawaii Coffee Association meeting on November 12, 2003 in Kona. This document has also been approved by the boards of directors of each organization listed. Please note that the entire Hawai`i coffee industry is behind this resolution, including those on Maui, Kauai, Molokai and Oahu.
Please respond to us within 30 days informing us as to how the State of Hawai`i will protect the coffee industry. We would like to continue to work with the Department of Agriculture on a solution that is acceptable to the Hawai`i state coffee industry.
Thank you for your attention to this matter.
Una Greenaway - Representative of theHawaii Coffee Industry Committee
Gov. Linda Lingle
Dean Andrew Hashimoto
Mayor Harry Kim
Hawaii County Council
November 12, 2003
Be it resolved:
The state of Hawaii needs to provide farmer protection from Genetically Engineered coffee including;
1. no GE coffee field or greenhouse tests and no commercially grown GE coffee in the state of Hawaii.
2. holding the biotech industry liable for economic, environmental or health problems, as a result of the introduction of GE coffee, that may occur.
Kona Coffee Council
Kona Farmers' Alliance
Kona Pacific Farmers' Cooperative
Hawaii Coffee Association
Hawaii Organic Farmers' Association
Hawaii Genetic Engineering Action Network
Two commercially grown GM papaya varieties have been plagued by papaya black-spot fungus. Since non-GM varieties appear to be far less susceptible, farmers are cutting down the GM papaya trees and looking to start afresh with non-GM seeds sourced from the University of Hawaii. A new study has also raised questions about human allergenic reactions to GM papaya. (see http://hawaiiislandjournal.com -1April, 2003)
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