Let’s ride ‘No GMO’ all the way to tropical paradise - The Packer

Let’s ride ‘No GMO’ all the way to tropical paradise

07/18/2014 09:48:00 AM
Chuck Robinson

“Many of them worked on big sugar and pineapple plantations. They saved to buy small plots of land. Those who farm these plots know that the papaya growers have survived thanks to genetically modified varieties that have been safely used since the 1990s.”

Indeed, an article from the Hawaii Tribune-Herald online titled “Papaya: A GMO Success Story” tells the story of the creation of the virus-resistant Rainbow papaya, which is credited with bringing the industry back from the brink of destruction caused by a virus.

Papaya production is nowhere near back to what it used to be but at least there are some Hawaiian papayas being produced. Vicky Boyd, staff writer for The Packer, wrote in April that Hawaiian papaya growers were not shy in support of GMO papayas.

In fact, the trade organization Hawaii Papaya Industry Association, Hilo, took out a two-page advertisement in Hawaiian Airlines magazine to tell travelers about nutritious papayas and how genetic engineering helped save the industry.

She quoted Eric Weinert, general manager of Los Angeles-based Calavo Growers Inc.’s Hawaii operations in Keaau that papaya growers had nothing to hide.

“Everybody knows Hawaiian papayas are GMO and have been for 15 years,” he said.

In early 2012, The Packer reported “after 13 years of negotiations, Japan has approved its first shipment of genetically modified Rainbow papayas from Hawaii.”

Many of us at The Packer support the use of genetically modified crops. Vicky Boyd attests to the tastiness of the Rainbow papaya, but I prefer to try it myself.

That means I need to get to Hawaii, since I think all the product in Japan is already spoken for. If I have to wave a sign saying no to GMOs in order for people to send me, so be it.

I need to set up a website and begin collecting donations.


What's your take? Leave a comment and tell us your opinion.

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Lorie Farrell    
Hawaii, Home of Hawaii Papaya  |  July, 18, 2014 at 01:39 PM

I'm pretty sure we can get you a taste of Hawaii Papaya but it is best if you travel to Big Island for its full flavor and affects. ;-) Nice article, fun read. Although many of our papaya growers actually lease their land only a portion own fee simple land.

Kevin Folta    
Gainesville, FL  |  July, 19, 2014 at 02:49 AM

I participated in forums in Kauai and even spoke with the council people about the science. They voted against science anyway. Ugh. The most hilarious part is the hypocrisy. They'll tell you that GMO is dangerous and untested, that it causes autism, arthritis, alzheimers, cancer, parkinsons, morgellons, obesity, diabetes and everything else. They'll tell you that it does not work and that farmers are forced to use it. Terrible technology! ... except for papayas. There it's fine. If it is so evil, ban all of it. Dare ya.

Joni Kamiya    
July, 19, 2014 at 04:06 AM

It's funny that you should mention the Babes Against Biotech because they initially said that they had no bad feelings towards the papaya farmers. Suddenly their flipped and are attacking everyone now. Now they scream that they want a label.

Aaron hemming    
July, 19, 2014 at 08:13 AM

I don't eat Hawaiian papaya anymore. I trust Gods engineering, not the greedy laboratory engineering!

Eric Weinert    
Keaau  |  July, 19, 2014 at 12:44 PM

We are proud of our Rainbow Papaya. It is the worlds best tasting papaya. It is always in top five most nutritious fruits. In the fifteen years we've been selling GMO papaya there has not been a single health complaint. We will soon be harvesting small volumes of non-GMO papaya to offer consumers choice. But to do that we must surround those fields with a buffer border of GMO papaya to protect the non-GMO trees from the virus. We continue to test and monitor for cross pollination and to date we have found none. That is because commercial orchards are hermaphroditic, meaning the flower has both male and female parts and is therefore self pollinating in most instances. The reason anyone can grow an organic non-GMO papaya in their back yard is because the GMO is so widely planted it has greatly reduced the virus pressure on Hawaii Island.

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