Kunai Research Farm, Oahu, Hawaii -- On a furrowed hillside suspended between alternate takes on paradise, with rugged, green mountains above and the placid waters of Pearl Harbor below, Hawaii's plantation legacy is constantly re-emerging.
Churned into the rust red dirt, ticker-tape pieces of black plastic flutter in the baking sun. Silence hangs in the air. Not so long ago, pineapples grew in the field and plastic lined the soil, conserving moisture and heat. When the pineapple plantation went south, the lining remained. With each new plowing, plastic shoots appear, peppering the soil.
The debris is a minor annoyance, however, for the farm's new owner, Monsanto Co.
Kunai has some of the best farmland in Hawaii. Blessed with irrigation and endless sunshine, Monsanto, the biotech seed developer, can raise up to four generations of corn in a year. In Iowa, they get one, assuming no floods. Hawaii's sped-up cycle is impossible to ignore, said Fred Perlak, the head of Monsanto's Operation in the state.