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From the Hawaii Tribune-Herald, April 7, 2000, Front Page:

Big Isle papaya crops tainted


Agriculture board chair Nakatani said market economics have forced the
papaya industry to rethink its much-vaunted genetically-engineered plant
strains.

The Japanese market, looked to as a source of 40 percent of potential
sales, has slammed the door on transgenic fruit, Nakatani said. 'This
presents an impetus... to get the [nongenetically-engineered] Kapoho Solo
variety back to its place of prominence in the Puna district,' Nakatani
said.

Meanwhile, growers said they're getting a far better price here for old
varieties.

Kapoho Solo cells for 60 cents a pound, while the genetically-altered
Rainbow papayas fetch a paltry 20 cents per pound, they said. Durkan said
Rainbow papayas have a brief shelf life before turning mushy, and they tend
to be oversized, making them more expensive to ship.

To top things off, the Rainbow variety, a hybrid, is showing signs od being
less disease-resistant than advertised, Durkan said. 'It's under
considerable virus pressure,' Durkan said.

More than 250 farmers statewide are growing Rainbow and SunUp transgenic
varieties, whose seeds were released in mid-1998 as the first
genetically-engineered fruit sold in the U.S. Developed over two decades,
the seeds wre engineered to resist the ringspot virus. The virus reduced
the Big Island's yearly papaya production from a peak of 72 million pounds
in 1989 to 28 million pounds in 1999.

Big Island papaya farmers produce 96% of Hawaii's papayas.

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