Mastering Environmental Science Everyday Environmental Science Video Transcript
Controversial biotechnology is definitely not the first thing that comes to mind when you think about Hawaii, especially since this US state has an incredible and fragile biodiversity.
But over the last ten years, these islands have become one of the world's leading centers in research of GM, or genetically modified, foods. Scientists here set the standard back in 1998 when they produced this papaya, the first genetically modified fruit deemed fit for human consumption by the US Food and Drug Administration.
'So why is GM so prevalent here? 'Well, in Hawaii, tropical fruit is very big business. 'For decades, the islands have dominated the supply of papaya to mainland USA and to Japan, 'bringing in a staggering 17 million dollars a year.
'But keeping up with that kind of demand means very intensive farming. ' One of the biggest problems with intensive agriculture is vulnerability to disease.
Now, as early as the 1940s, Hawaiian papaya growers were struggling against a virus called ringspot that invaded the islands and decimated their crops. The farmers tried to move the papaya, but the disease hopped from island to island with incredible ease, and by 1997, the entire Hawaiian papaya industry was facing collapse.