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Apr 21, 2010

GM Papaya Wins Approval in Japan

The Western Farm Press reports that Japan has approved gene modified (GM) papaya.  This article is based upon a presentation made by Dr. Dennis Gonsalves (featured in the photo to the left) at the Western Society of Weed Science in Hawaii.  Gonsalves is director of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Pacific Basin Agricultural Research Center in Hilo, Hawaii and professor emeritus of plant pathology at Cornell.  He is responsible for gene research that led to discovery and approval of GM papaya in the United States that was virus resistant to papaya ring spot (PVRS).

The article provides background information on Gonsalves' biography and his research.  A native Hawaiian, he spent 25 years Cornell and developed research that would save Hawaii's $47 million papaya industry. Papaya is the second largest fruit crop in Hawaii and 25-30% of its exports go to Japan. 

In 1997, the USDA approved the commercial release of GM SunUp and Rainbow papaya, varieties developed by Gonsalves.  Seed for these varieties was made available to Hawaiian growers in 1998.

Since then, Gonsalves has been working through Japan's regulatory approval to receive approval for his GE papaya varieties.  Approval was gained and Japan will begin accepting GM papaya in 2010.

Gonsalves has also been working on receiving regulatory approval for commercial release in Thailand.  Thai scientists did collaborate with him between 1999-2004 but work has been discontinued due to protests organized by Greenpeace that have destroyed field tests.  Other collaborations include work with scientists in Bangladesh, Jamaica, Venezuela, Brazil, and various countries in Africa.

Photo credit:  Plant geneticist Dennis Gonsalves, Ph.D. courtesy of Cornell University College of Agricultural & Life Sciences, New York State Agricultural Experimental Station.

For more see: Cline, Harry. "GM papaya wins approval in U.S., Japan," Western Farm Press, 21 April 2010.

About Margaret

CEO and Curator (The Food Museum) | Managing Director and Chief Editor (GR2 Global LLC) | Educator (UCLA PhD) | Researching and writing on global food issues, nutrition and health, sustainability, history (preservation), conservation (natural resources), and design.
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