"When the virus hit, what did your crops look like?" KITV Reporter Lara Yamada asked Belmes.
"It was all chopped down. All the trees were cut," said Belmes.
"We went from 17 employees down to one," said Perry.
"They were having a hard time. A lot of them gave up farming. A lot of them went to find part time jobs," said former packing company general manager Loren Mochida, who thought it might be over too, until he says he saw something amazing: a field trial for a mysterious variety called the Rainbow Papaya.
"It made me a believer," he said.
As the ring spot pummeled Hawaii's papaya supply, Dr. Dennis Gonsalves and a team of scientists had been quietly creating one answer for a huge virus problem -- a genetically modified papaya resistant to the ring spot. The results were dramatic.
"So, we knew that we had something," said Gonsalves.
Today, the vast majority of papayas grown on the Big Island are GMOs.
"We are in our 8th generation of selecting, so we're getting really good yields now," said Perry.
"Most of these people are well intentioned and they think they did save it," said