It was a sign of trouble for hundreds of Hawaiian papaya farmers who, for the next several years, would lose field after field of their crop — altogether an $11-million dollar industry. The culprit was an incurable virus called Papaya Ring Spot Virus.
There’s a lot of talk about genetically modified crops today, but the truth is that there are only eight kinds that are currently approved for commercial production — though there are also a number that are considered “at risk” (sometimes classified as “monitored risk”) because they are susceptible to cross-pollination by approved GMOs (these include flax, wheat, rice, Beta vulgaris [chard, table beets, etc.], Brassica napa (rutabaga, Siberian kale, etc.], Brassica rapa (bok choy, mizuna, Chinese cabbage, turnip, rapini, tatsoi, etc.], and Curcubita [acorn squash, delicata squash, etc.]).
According to the FDA, GMOs are assessed based upon their toxicity and allergenic properties. “… Before they [crops] can be planted in the U.S.,” according to Thomas Helscher, Executive Director, Commercial Acceptance, at Monsanto Company, “GM crops undergo detailed scientific review by at least two, and often three separate federal agencies, including: the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).”