In the news...

November 27th, 2018 / The Daily Californian, US

Genetically modified organisms have the capacity to greatly benefit farmers, consumers and the environment. Genetic modifications to crop plants can reduce the need for pesticide application, improve nutritive aspects of foods and provide ecological services. The genetically modified papaya provides an excellent example of how smallholder farmers have benefitted from GM technology. Plagued by the papaya ringspot virus in the 1990s, the $11 million Hawaiian papaya industry, supported nearly entirely by smallholder farmers of racial and ethnic minorities, was crumbling. Cornell University’s Hawaiian-born scientist Dennis Gonsalves, along with his team, found a solution to this epidemic using genetic engineering to produce the rainbow papaya. Smallholder Hawaiian papaya growers rapidly adopted the improved papaya variety with 1,134 kilograms of seeds distributed at no charge. The use of a genetically modified organism provided an effective solution for smallholders whose livelihoods and lifestyles were deeply threatened. The GM papaya was most rapidly adopted by smallholder farmers. Access to this technology provided an avenue for farmers who needed to abandon papaya cultivation because of the ringspot epidemic to return to their former occupations. In this case, technology that is too frequently belittled preserved the lives of smallholder farmers by allowing them to carry on their lifelong occupations. Read more