Papaya Scientists sing Somewhere Over the Rainbow

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.

I give you, Somewhere Over the Rainbow, sung by Dennis and Carol Gonsalves.

Papaya400This week we are rounding out the final week of our Kickstarter fundraising campaign, and our readers have selected the Papaya to be the next plush we will make if we reach our Stretch Goal. All this week to raise awareness I will tell what I have learned about the papaya story, up to the more recent activist claims. We really need a papaya character to help us tell this story.

The Gonsalves are happy to hear that the papaya could be next. Let’s send them some plush papayas.

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Karl earned his Ph.D. in Plant Breeding and Plant Genetics at UW-Madison, with a minor in Life Science Communication. His dissertation was on both the genetics of sweet corn and plant genetics outreach. He recently moved back to his home state of California. His favorite produce might just be squash.