Greenpeace activists deliver thousands of contaminated papayas to authorities in Thailand.
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.
Papaya - fruit with a long history, uncertain future
Papaya 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 flatlined.
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.
"GE 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?
In Thailand, Thais will invite you to partake in one of their
favourite foods - somtam - the green papaya salad eaten daily
throughout the country.
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
Although GE Papaya has not been commercialised in Thailand,
mounting pressure is been applied to Thailand by the US
agro-chemical companies and government, which are threatening
current genetic engineering 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
Thailand has existing bans on the field trial, commercial
planting of GE crops, but this has been under constant assault from
the US and 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
"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.
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