My dorky “OMG It’s Dennis Gonsalves!” shot
Last August, I was invited to speak about genetically engineered crops at a GMO Summit organized by the Hawai’i Crop Improvement Association. The event was held on the big island of Hawai’i, known for its enormous volcanoes, long beaches, and coffee and papaya farms. The HCIA flew me in to speak (honorarium declined), I stayed at people’s houses, and while I was in the state I knew I really wanted to see a papaya farm and to meet Dr. Dennis Gonsalves, who developed the genetically engineered ringspot virus-resistant papayas known as SunUp and Rainbow. So I sent him an email, and he was delighted to show me around, and even took me to his home to cook with his papayas!
Early on a Sunday morning, I met Dennis on the side of the road in Puna. My host Eric was driving, and Jon Entine and his host Judi met us at the same intersection. Not far away, protesters were walking with signs objecting to hydrothermal power. I had only seen pictures of Dennis before today, so I did not know what to expect. I had seen his picture in a wall of famous agricultural scientists in the Chicago Museum of Science & Industry, but now here he was! Continue reading.
Our Kickstarter campaign is rapidly coming to a close. With just three days left, we’ve got some exciting news to tell you about. Well, here it is: Continue reading.
While the article GMOs, Silver Bullets and the Trap of Reductionist Thinking has garnered some praise, I was hoping for more here and was left unimpressed. Written by Jonathan Foley, Director of the Institute on the Environment, University of Minnesota, the article begins by stating that GMOs have come with “Big Problems”. He goes on to elaborate several points that are actually either old myths, untrue, or not really GE specific. In the move from “lab into the real world” he states that “they end up being very disappointing.” I wonder how many growers across the globe would agree with that. I’d like to take a closer look at some of the “problems” that he sees: Continue reading.
Last summer, I had the privilege of meeting Dr. Dennis Gonsalves, who is the scientist behind the genetically engineered Rainbow and SunUp papayas in Hawai’i. I toured a papaya farm, and went to his house to spend the afternoon with Dennis and his wife Carol, and we talked about the development of the GMO papaya – which they were both involved in. But best of all, we shared a meal made from many different papaya dishes, all using the papaya that they developed (You will be able to see a glimpse of this food at a later date)!
When we sat down to eat, I and everyone else in attendance was treated to something special, which I will now share with you. Dennis whipped out his Ukulele and he and Carol sang, not just for us, but for all of you. The love their work, and while political controversy still continues to surround the Rainbow papaya 15 years after it was released and helped the farmers of Hawai’i, they can’t keep themselves from expressing how they feel about it through song. Continue reading.
Information without context is not knowledge
Last week the anti-biotech websites exploded with the news: “Roundup Weedkiller Found in 75% of Air and Rain Samples, Gov. Study Finds” and more scary-sounding titles like that.
My first response was to get a copy of the paper right away so I could read all about it and see the data. That would be pretty remarkable. But I could not access the paper at Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry. So how did all of these websites above and their scholarly journalists get the manuscript?
I contacted one of the original paper’s authors, Dr. Paul Capel, and asked for a copy and got one. Apparently I was the first. Seems like those coming to the conclusions of the websites above were acting true to form– skimming an abstract and drawing a conclusion that best fits their desires.
So I actually read the paper! Want to know what it says? Continue reading.