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Monday, July 03, 2006 

Papayas

Who knew?

All commercial papayas grown in the U.S. are grown in Hawaii. More than 50 percent of them are genetically modified to resist the papaya ring virus, which devastated the local papaya industry in the early 1990s.

However, Japan, a major export market for Hawaiian papaya, does not accept genetically modified (GM) papayas. To solve the problem, local farmers adopted an “identity preservation protocol” to ensure papayas sold in the Japanese market did not contain genetically modified organisms (GMOs). The protocol essentially serves as a voluntary labeling standard, with strict certification processes and testing.

....In the past two years, the commodities branch of Hawaii’s Department of Agriculture has rejected “way less than 1 percent” of conventional papayas shipped to Japan, according to Darrel Kohara, acting Hawaii district supervisor for the Commodities Branch. “Our last rejection was over a year-and-a-half ago, and it was due to an applicant not following procedure,” he says.

However, commercial papayas are the only ones monitored by such a program. GM papayas are unlabeled in stores and home gardeners unknowingly using these seeds are planting GM papaya.

“Hawaii’s GM papayas are a real threat to organic papaya growers,” says Nancy Redfeather, a local organic farmer and GMO-free advocate. “Once a GM crop is introduced into a regional area, it’s only a matter of time until you can no longer grow the crop with the genetic certainty you had before. - Hawai'i Business

Check out Kauai Community Radio KKCR
at kkcr.org for Hawaiian music and discussion of community issues, especially GMOs

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