The tiny anti-GMO movement in Hawaii grew into a sizable force in 2013-14, thanks largely to funding and directional support from organizations on the US mainland. As the movement expanded and sought to destroy the GM seed crops that comprise the most valuable sector of Hawaii agriculture, it deeply divided rural communities throughout the state.
University of Hawaii researchers and conventional farmers were suddenly under intense scrutiny, especially farmers growing papayas that had been genetically engineered to resist the devastating ringspot virus.
As a longtime Hawaii reporter who had extensively chronicled the fear-mongering and false information spread by the anti-GMO movement, I saw the need to inform people about the situation in the Islands and the reality of biotechnology. The result is this documentary, which I wrote, directed and produced for the Cornell Alliance for Science. It tells the story of what happened in the Islands from the perspective of a papaya farmer and his daughter, with University of Hawaii scientists and other farmers weighing in.
Their message is one of inclusivity, dialogue and discussion to help bridge the divide and ensure the success of agriculture in the Islands and elsewhere.
Joan Conrow is a longtime Hawaii journalist and blogger who has written extensively about agricultural, environmental and political issues. She is a Visiting Fellow at the Cornell Alliance for Science and a member of its multimedia team. @joanconrow