|Authors: ||R.E. Paull, S. Ferreira, R. Manshardt|
Transgenic fruit with modified gene traits have led to technological commercial successes (e.g. virus resistant papaya) and some disappointments (tomato softening - antisense polygalacturonase). In order to be successful, the technology needs to take commercial, economic, social and environmental impacts into account.
Transgenic commodities that provide producers a cost advantage (e.g. an input character: such as disease resistance) may not be reflected in a lower price for consumers.
Similarly, fruit handlers and consumers may not see an advantage of modified handling and ripening characteristics (output characters) and hence they may not be willing to pay a premium.
This hesitancy is particularly so for commodities that are available all year around from a single or multiple sources.
Hawaii’s papaya industry was in a perilous state from 1992, as papaya ringspot virus rapidly moved through the major production area on the Big Island. ‘SunUp’ and ‘Rainbow’ (F1-‘SunUp’ x ‘Kapoho’) were the two transgenic virus resistant cultivars released by the University of Hawaii in 1998 through the Papaya Administrative Committee.
The availability of the transgenic seed rescued the industry.
Producers saw their family incomes increase and employment improved for the numerous small papaya producers.
Hawaii has been successful in marketing transgenic papaya fruit on the US Mainland.
There has been some resistance by large corporate distributors.
However, transgenic fruit are readily marketed in supermarket chains and small retailers.
The return of the industry to full health depends upon access to the Japanese market, and to a lesser extent access to Canada.
Both are under petition.
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