Five major companies own or lease 25,000 acres on four islands, and the demand for GMOs has increased exponentially, but the dust has yet to settle on whether it's a safe and smart move for Hawaii.
“We have things like banana, papaya, mango, avocado, star fruit, dragon fruit, and breadfruit. Dadadadadadada!” sang farmer Al Santoro.
Farmer Al Santoro runs Poamoho Organic Produce, the largest certified organic operation on Oahu, with seven acres and more than 600 fruit trees in Waialua.
“Every one of my mangoes has our name it and it says certified organic,” he said.
Only minutes from his farm is Monsanto Hawaii, which has more than 2,000 acres growing mostly genetically modified corn and soybean seeds.
“They are the most tested, the most studied of new introductions of products that we have on earth,” said Fred Perlak, head of operations at Monsanto Hawaii.
But over the years, some studies have questioned the safety of GMOs.
- Researchers at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln detected allergens from soybeans with Brazil nut genes.
- Scientists at Purdue University blamed an insecticide used to treat GE crops for killing scores of bees in Indiana.
- The Institute for Responsible Technology reports pesticides inserted into plants triggered allergic and flu-like symptoms in humans, and damaged mice intestines.
- They also say 93 percent of pregnant women in Canada had the Bt-toxin pesticide in their blood.
"From a safety standpoint, a scientific standpoint it doesn't make sense," said Perlak.
The FDA says it has yet to find any studies proving, without a doubt, that GMOs are unsafe.