GENTICALLY ENGINEERED PAPAYA
GENTICALLY ENGINEERED PAPAYA
2006-05-26 at 10:52:00 am #15558
— The island of Hawaii’i, also known as the Big Island. An island
filled with contrasts – lush tropical rain forests, grassy rolling
hills, dry deserts, sunny beaches and snow capped volcanic peaks …an
alluring and exotic tropical island. And the world’s largest open-air
genetic engineering laboratory.
The Big Island contains the world’s greatest concentration of
climate types in one relatively small area. Hawaii has 11 of the
world’s 13 climate zones in just over 4000 square miles of terrain. In
the midst of this beauty agro-chemical conglomerates have exploited
this special place.
Hawaii has run more than 4,000 GE field
trials to date — more than any other location in the world per square
metre. Corn, soy, wheat, sugarcane (biopharmaceuticals), orchids, lime
tree, sorgum, cotton, barley and coffee have all been exploited in GE
field trials by a well-funded and greedy agro-chemical industry.
Only one GE crop is approved for commercial purposes: the Papaya. A new report by Greenpeace demonstrates how it has devastated the Hawaiian export market.
has been grown in tropical regions of the world for as long as history
has been recorded. This brightly coloured and unique fruit that we have
enjoyed for centuries is under threat, in Hawaii successful papaya
growing and stable export markets were flourishing up until the
commercialisation of genetically engineered papaya in 1998. Then things
changed. Several years after the GE industry got control over papaya
farmers and the papaya they grow the export market for Hawaiian papaya
Hawaii is the only place in the world where GE Papaya
is grown commercially and most of the countries importing Hawaii papaya
- including the EU, Japan and China – have an aversion to GE crops and
foods. Doors started closing on Hawaii’s papaya exports and prices went
into free fall. Organic and conventional farmers were earning up to
three times as much for their GE-free papayas. But the organic exports
are on the downturn now as well, as it is harder to guarantee GE-free
fruit due to contamination from neighbouring GE strains.
papayas are a big issue on this island, science put them here and now
with the help of volunteers and local farmers we are taking them away,”
said Terri Mulroy, organic papaya farmer on Hawaii Island commenting
from a recent decontamination event at her farm. “Once the GE papayas
are removed I will be happy again and hope that all of my remaining
papayas are GE-free.”
Will Thailand learn from Hawaii’s mistakes?
Thailand, Thais will invite you to partake in one of their favourite
foods – somtam – the green papaya salad eaten daily throughout the
This traditional dish and Thailand’s own papaya export
markets are under threat from the US GE papaya industry as they stretch
their tentacles into South East Asia.
Thai papaya farmers tainted by GE
GE Papaya has not been commercialised in Thailand and a three-year
freeze on the growing of all GE crops has been achieved, Thai farmers
and industries are facing mounting pressure by the US agro-chemical
companies, which could threaten these bans. Already, due to a Thai
Government agency’s role in the illegal distribution of GE-contaminated
papaya seeds, contamination issues for conventional and organic growers
is an ongoing problem.
We don’t want it
has an existing ban on the planting and sale of GE crops, but this has
been under constant assault from the agro-chemical industry, led mainly
by US interests. The GE papaya which caused the ongoing contamination
of Thai farms was developed by the same scientist who introduced
Hawaii’s problematic GE papaya.
“The Thai Government has
attempted to lift the genetic engineering ban under pressure from the
US government and the agro-chemical industry. However, Thais oppose GE
crops because we don’t want to lose the market for our farm crops, like
what happened to Hawaiian papayas, as well as our status as the world’s
kitchen,” said Patwajee Srisuwan
The Hawaiian and Thai
Governments and industry need to pull back from this economically,
environmentally, and export-damaging technology. They need to look
closely at the evidence provided from both regions and then move
towards supporting and nurturing the conventional and organic papaya
growers upon whom, ultimately, the burden of GE contamination will fall.