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CTAHR Publications

Use of Biotechnology in Agriculture—
Benefits and Risks









Agricultural Biotechnology

Biotechnology is the application of scientific techniques to modify plants, animals, and microorganisms. Agricultural biotechnology applies genetic engineering methods to agricultural products. These procedures directly change the DNA of the plant, usually by inserting genetic material from another organism.

papaya fruitAgricultural biotechnology is playing an increasingly important role in Hawaii. Biotechnology is being used to protect papaya from a virus. Seed growers, a major supporter of biotechnology, have become a significant source of non-tourist income. Scientific research using genetic engineering to create disease resistant taro has created controversy regarding the relationship between science and culture. Additionally, the use of biotechnology in Hawaii has made the state a focus for opponents of the technology.

Hawaii has unique characteristics that should be taken into consideration. Our fragile ecosystem needs to be protected and cultural traditions should be valued. The importation of pests and plant diseases has created new challenges for the farming community, and we have become more and more dependent on imported food.

The goal of this site is to provide you with an unbiased source of information so that you can make informed decisions about biotechnology. The Biotechnology Outreach Program provides community educational programs throughout the state. This website is designed to address the questions and concerns that have frequently been expressed by individuals we have met during these events.


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