Intro: Tragic Papaya

A Hawaiian papaya orchard

Hawaiian Papaya: Collateral Damage in the Global Debate on Biotechnology

Article placed online: March 19, 2015

Hawaii’s Big Island has banned or severely limited the farming of genetically engineered (GE or GM) crops, including a papaya developed by a native Hawaiian to resist a devastating virus disease. The battle over GE crops and the law enacted in Hawaii is a microcosm of the global fight determining the future of GE crops.

This 12-part series by entomologist Anthony Shelton is the first comprehensive article about a genetically engineered crop, in this case, GE papaya in Hawaii. The story describes the virus disease outbreak, the development of virus-resistant GE papaya, small-scale farmers who adopted it, the emergence of the opposition and their takeover of the democratic process, the scientist who developed the technology, and the future of GE crops.

Click on chapters below to start reading the article:

1.  Tropical hurricane ‘Anti-GE Papaya’ hits Hawaii

2. Storm victims, Ross Sibucao and other smallholder farmers

3. Enter Hawaiian papaya scientist, Dennis Gonsalves

4. BB guns, intellectual property and the road to commercialization

5. When local politics trumps science and farmers

6. The organized but ill-informed opposition

7. The hurricane gathers force

8. Where’s the science?

9. GE facts, fiction and fear

10. Few win, many lose

11. Path of destruction and collateral damage

12. A ‘Rainbow’ ending?

13. Current update on the status of GM papaya in Hawaii

14. Photo Credits


2 thoughts on “Intro: Tragic Papaya

  1. Dear Tony, this is a wonderful comprehensive story on a famous GM crop battle, congratulations. It is a classic example on the divide of human minds caused by lots of elements (moral self-licensing, tribal solidarity, human believe systems etc. etc. When I look at your portrait on the entry page I am convinced that the fundamentalists must get afraid of you…. I will cite your work in my extensive literature review on the Golden Rice and the Background of this silly GM debate going on and on and on. Keep up the good work, and – Joan Baez was right: “we shall overcome” – the moral frontiers have changed since the sixties!!


    Posted by Klaus Ammann | April 14, 2015, 4:33 pm


  1. Pingback: Story of genetically engineered papaya | Genetic Literacy Project - March 30, 2015

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: