domingo, diciembre 14, 2008

Scientific American article on GMO's in Hawaii

The last few paragraphs:

The genetically modified seed biz may be booming in the 50th state, but not everyone is pleased about it. The Hawaii County Council (county legislature) last month voted to ban the growth of genetically modified taro (a tropical plant whose potato-like root is a staple of the Hawaiian diet) and coffee on the Big Island (Hawaii). The reason: pollen from GM crops could contaminate the non-gm varieties and destroy farmers' livelihoods. The concern seems to be greater with these products, because they're specialty crops commonly grown on the Islands, as opposed to corn, raising the possibility of cross-pollination.

Map of the United States with Hawaii highlighted

There is also an emotional element to banning GM taro. According to legend, the taro plant originated when a child of the gods was born lifeless. >From the child's grave sprouted the first taro plant, forever casting it as a sacred subsistence food and an ancestor to native Hawaiians.

Despite the hoopla, Carol Okada, manager for the Plant Quarantine Branch of Hawaii's Department of Agriculture, says the business is here to stay and will still be booming in Hawaii 10 years down the road. "Even though it's controversial here," she says, "the [GM] seed industry is now the No. 1 industry for us and it is very important in terms of the economy, dealing with invasive species, and giving farmers choices."

The bottom line: Hawaii may be the GM crop test capital of the world, but the debate over biotech foods is far from over.

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