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Title: The adoption of genetically modified papaya in Hawaii and its implications for developing countries


Submitted to: Journal of Developmental Studies
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 11/1/2006
Publication Date: 1/20/2007
Citation: Gonsalves, C., Lee, D.R., Gonsalves, D. 2007. The adoption of genetically modified papaya in Hawaii and its implications for developing countries. Journal of Developmental Studies 43:177-191.

Interpretive Summary: Transgenic Rainbow papaya, which is resistant to papaya ringspot virus, was commercialized in Hawaii in 1998 in an effort to control the devastation being caused by papaya ringspot virus in Puna, where 95% of Hawaii's papaya was being grown. This paper summarizes the adoption of the transgenic papaya by farmers within the first two years of its release. Adoption was widespread and rapid. Surveys suggest that the rapid adoption by farmers was mediated by the fact that the transgenic papaya allowed them to grow papaya without being infected by the papaya ringspot virus. Since papaya ringspot virus is severe throughout the world, this technology could be of major help to developing countries. It remains to be seen, however, whether virus-resistant transgenic papaya will be adopted as rapidly as it was by farmers in Hawaii.

Technical Abstract: As agricultural biotechnology becomes increasingly commercialized, numerous constraints serve to limit adoption by developing country producers. These include technology access, impacts on farmers’ yields and profits, the privatization of research and intellectual property, biosafety regulatory frameworks, and trade-related market restrictions. This essay analyses the development of the genetically modified papaya and its commercialisation in Hawaii as a response to the virulent plant disease, papaya ringspot virus. Results of a survey of Hawaiian papaya growers suggest that the unprecedentedly rapid adoption of GM papaya is due to this technology’s having addressed many of these key constraints facing growers. The implications for developing-country adoption of GM varieties are explored.