Greenpeace volunteers remove genetically modified contaminated fruit from a Puna farm on Big Island Hawaii.
Several local farmers and native Hawaiian activists joined
Greenpeaceexperts today in decontaminating an organic farm in
Hawaii that hasbeen tainted with genetically engineered (GE) papaya
from nearbycommercial farms. The farm was sealed off with signs
reading, 'GEPapaya Restricted Area' as volunteers in hazmat suits
removed trees,fruits and seeds from the scene.
According to evidence released today by Greenpeace, GE papaya
profitshave dwindled significantly as a growing number of global
marketsreject the crop. Organic farmers in Hawaii are especially
alarmed, asthe state is considered a contamination hot spot with
the most GE fieldtrials per square mile in the world and the only
place where GE papayais grown commercially.
"These US corporations tried to force feed GE papaya on the
world andthe world isn't biting," said Local Hawaii Farmer, Melanie
Bondera."Organic crops can get three times what GE papaya can get
on themarket, but not if there's a possibility it's contaminated.
The GEindustry came to us promising big money but instead they are
ruiningour crops and robbing us of our profits."
Greenpeace has been at the forefront of decontamination efforts
aroundthe world, assisting farmers concerned about genetic
engineeringtainting and stopping illegal distribution of GE papaya
in countriessuch as Japan and Thailand that have put a ban on these
crops.Currently a court case is underway in Thailand where South
East Asiacampaigner Patwajee Srisuwan and the former Executive
Director Dr.Jiragon Gajaseni are facing up to six years in prison
for exposing aThai government agency's role in the illegal
distribution of GEcontaminated papaya.
"The Thai Government has attempted to lift the genetic
engineering banunder pressure from the US government and the
agro-chemical industry.However, Thais oppose GE crops because we
don't want to lose the marketfor our farm crops, like what happened
to Hawaiian papayas, as well asour status as the world's kitchen,"
said Patwajee Srisuwan.
Papaya has been grown in tropical regions for centuries and
Hawaiiexports markets were flourishing until the introduction of
geneticallyengineered papaya in 1998. Most of the countries
importing papaya fromHawaii including the EU, Japan, and China have
an aversion to GE cropsand foods. Doors started closing on Hawaii's
exports and prices wentinto free fall.
Organic and conventional farmers have also suffered losses, as
it isdifficult to guarantee the GE-free status of their crops due
tocontamination from neighbouring commercial GE farms. Greenpeace
iscalling on governments and industry to protect its farmers
andconsumers from the food safety and environmental risks posed
bygenetically engineered foods.
Greenpeace is an independent, campaigning organisation which
usesnon-violent, creative confrontation to expose global
environmentalproblems, and to drive solutions essential to a green
VVPR info: Hawaii - Carol Gregory Greenpeace USA communications officerMob: + 1 202 4138 531Thailand - Arthur Jones Dionio Greenpeace South East Asia Regional media campaigner Mob: + 66 1 710 9605Amsterdam - Suzette Jackson Greenpeace International communications officerMob: + 31 6 4619 7324Images and from today's activity contact Melissa Molyneux Greenpeace USAMob: + 202-319-2429 (office); + 609-713-9660Greenpeace International report 'The Failure of GE Papaya in Hawaii'www.greenpeace.org/international/press/reports/FailureGEPapayainHawaii