In February of 2014, the New Caledonian Government passed an order to ban the importation of GM fruit seeds, including papaya, into the territory. The ban was put into place in August of 2014. Nevertheless, this new law went nearly unnoticed: no debate on this serious issue…are there GM papaya plants in New Caledonia?
In spite of repeated demands, the institutions of New Caledonia have continued to turn a political blind eye regarding the presence of possible GM papaya plants in the territory and the probable contamination to the traditional local papayas. For several years now, the Office of Agriculture Development of the Southern Province have recommended using papaya seeds from the Hawaiian SunUp variety, the infamous GM papaya developed by the University of Hawaii.
The importation of seeds, and the contamination of local papaya plants is of no doubt, now is the time to inform the population in order to take the necessary steps to stop it. Moreover, given the risks of contamination and the spreading of GM papaya everywhere, it is no longer reasonable to continue to import papaya seeds into New Caledonia at all, even if they are not considered GMO.
Co-existence is IMPOSSIBLE !
And it will ruin the economies of the Pacific Island nations. We invite Pacific Islanders to join our appeal.
By signing this petition, I ask to the New Caledonian authorities:
The papaya (Papaya Carica) is a tropical plant originating from Mexico, and the fruit is eaten raw, as a salad, or lightly cooked.
Although it is produced commercially in several countries, the papaya is also a part of the subsistence farming culture in private food gardens. It is easy to grow, produces fruit in the first season after planting, and necessitates little help thereafter.
World papaya production is estimated to be in the tens of millions of tons, supported by about 400,000 hectares. The main producers are India, Brazil, and Nigeria. One serving of 100g of ripe papaya has 133% of the daily recommended value of Vitamin C for an adult and 33% of the daily recommended value of Vitamin A. The papaya is a plant that has numerous medicinal virtues, and is particularly known to aid the digestive system.
Allergene ? After putting the GM papaya on the market, scientists have noticed that the transgenetic encoded protein was presenting an homology with an amino acid sequence similar to an allergen listed in their database.
In Hawaii, like in other places, intensive monoculture farming of papayas has led to the vulnerability of the plant to the Ringspot Virus, a disease transmitted by insects. The infected plants won’t die, but they cannot bear any more fruit. In 1994, the University of Hawaii developed a GM Papaya resistant to the Ringspot Virus. There are several cultivated varieties: RAINBOW and SUNUP are two that come from the variety of SUNRISE. These are grown mainly in Hawaii, and are sold in the US, Canada and Japan.
How are they made ?
The technology used, called RNA interference, consists of introducing an inverted DNA sequence that allows inhibition of a pathogenic organism at the transcription level. The inversed gene of a protein of virale capside of PSRV introduced to a papaya plant prevents the development of the virus by blocking the synthesis of an essential protein of the virus.
It’s not just Hawaii that produces GM Papayas!
China grows another GM variety, called Huaong No. 1, authorized since 2006 in the Guangdong region and Hainan Island and developed by the South China Agricultural University.
In Thailand, field trials of GM papayas were made on several occasions and in several places until July 2003. But a moratorium was imposed on the trials because contamination was
discovered in commercial fields. In 2004, it was found that 329 out of 8912 papayas tested had traces of GM (about 4%). The farmers were compensated for each tree which was destroyed. But in
spite of the destruction, other GM papaya plants were later discovered.
In 2014, the European Commission requested an audit following several alerts concerning the presence of GM papayas in papaya based products coming from Thailand. GM Papaya is not allowed in Europe, and the audit recommended systematic testing in the country of origin on exported products in order to guarantee that they are not GMO.
More cases of contamination have been reported in Hawaii, Taiwan, China, Hong Kong, and Fiji... trials are also ongoing in Philippines, Australia, Japan, Indonesia. These contaminations pose a serious environmental problem, but also consider this: in certain countries, like Fiji, the exportation of papayas weighs in the economic balance. In Hawaii, organic farmers are required to test their papaya (to be free of GMOs) before they are sold. Co-existance is impossible. Other countries like Brazil, Jamaica, Venezuela, Bangladesh, Uganda, and Tanzania are also under threat : GM papaya was designed for their market and widely promoted.
GM papaya is spreading worldwide with uncontrolled GM seeds release...
Some more information about GM papaya contamination
> in Thaïland : GREENPEACE
Papaya: GMO Contaminated (2006)
In 1998, the first GMO Papaya was commercially released into Hawaii’s growing environment. Dr. Dennis Gonsalves and Dr. Richard Manshardt created this papaya ringspot virus (PRSV) resistant GMO fruit and were experimenting with its release in PRSV ridden Puna, the main papaya growing area of Hawaii. While the GMO Papaya is resistant to papaya ringspot virus, it brought many more problems than it solved. The GMO Papaya has closed lucrative export and organic markets and always has a low price point. This technology has come with too many strings attached and Hawaii has lost almost half of its papaya farmers.
Another unintended problem is GMO contamination. In 2003, GMO Free Hawaii became very concerned with the gene flow of the GMO Papaya. First, we used the GUS gene test to see how much contamination was on our farms and in our community. After consistently finding 30-50% of the seeds and leaves we tested having some kind of air or seed contamination, we wanted to know more. We put out calls for independent, peer-reviewed academic studies to examine the levels of this GMO Papaya contamination, to no avail. In 2004, GMO Free Hawaii designed a study to look at the extent of GMO contamination around the state.