This article was updated at 10:55, PST.
Series: Biotech in Hawaii, Part two
I was recently in Hawaii and regrettably did not eat a single papaya while I was there. What was I thinking? I guess I was too busy eating mangos, pineapples and to-die-for ahi and octopus poke.
Not even a week after arriving back home, I came across a succession of tweets about Hawaiian papaya. These tweets were mostly between celebrity Roseanne Barr, who apparently lives on a macadamia nut farm on the big island in Hawaii (see wiki inset below), and Karl Haro von Mogel, noted plant geneticist and one of the moderators of the excellent Biofortified website. This wasn’t a brief exchange, nor were they ever in agreement. If I were to give the Miss Congeniality award, I would give it to Karl, hands down. He was extremely polite in the face of some crude insults hurled his way.
The whole exchange comes across to me as a study of how celebrities can be dead wrong, but believed simply because people like them or even just recognize them. Their credibility is based on being known by the public, not because they know anything. Why is that? Roseanne Barr has over 200,000 followers. This is a topic in and of itself. But here I will simply focus on the papaya.
A few months back I did a series of posts called The Benevolent Side of GMOs and really, the papaya story should have been included in that series. My bad that it wasn’t. Many of my readers already know about the engineered papaya and if not, there are several excellent articles which explain it to perfection cited at the end of this post. Here is an extremely brief synopsis.
Links mentioned above: It’s Not Easy Being Green ~ The Elephant Journal ~ Biofortified
Anti-GMO Activist Roseanne Barr Struggles To Defend Her Claims/Debunking Denialism
Below are a few screen shots from a much longer tweet battle between activist Roseanne Barr and Karl Haro von Mogel. Biotechnology expert Val Giddings chimes in for a bit as well.
For the real facts, here is a sampling of A-list articles and blog posts on this topic.
Transgenic Papaya in Hawaii and Beyond/AgBioForum/USDA
Transgenic Papaya/Vegan GMO
Genetically Modified Papayas/GMO Compass
Julee K @ Sleuth4health