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GMO Contestation: The History of the Introduction of Genetically Modified Organisms on the Islands of Hawaii

Authors: Winter Widdifield*, Clemson University
Topics: Pacific Islands, Cultural and Political Ecology, Cultural Ecology
Keywords: Genetics, GMO,
Session Type: Paper
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Genetically modified organisms (GMOs) have been contested worldwide since their introduction, but the argument against them has never been stronger than in Hawaii. Since their debut in the islands, Native Hawaiians along with historical settlers have been protesting the cultivation/experimentation of GMOs, claiming that the modification of sacred land and crops is disrespectful, but also arguing that there are potentially negative health and environmental effects related to the use and consumption of such organisms. However, some farmers and local community members in Hawaii do not support the ban of GMOs, mostly due to the lack of evidence that GMOs cause any negative health and environmental effects and with the argument that the commodification of such GMOs increases state revenue. This paper explores the effects, positive and negative, that GMOs have had on the islands since their introduction on the agriculture/agribusiness. Special attention is paid to how GMOs have changed the diversity of crops and the business of farming on the islands, the political battles associated with pro/anti-GMO movements, and the Native Hawaiian’s view of genetically modified organisms being grown on/effecting their sacred land and crops.

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