Economic Impact of Agricultural Biotechnology in Hawaii

Agriculture is an essential industry in Hawai‘i and is the state’s third largest source of income after tourism and the military sector. Agriculture diversifies the economy and reduces dependency on tourism and imported produce. Crops derived through biotechnology represent a small proportion of Hawai‘i’s total agricultural acreage (NASS, 2006; NASS, 2007) but play significant roles in the papaya and seed industries.

In 2007, Hawaii had 178 papaya farms covering 2135 acres. The state has shown a trend toward increased use of the Rainbow variety which is genetically engineered to be resistant to the ringspot virus. In 2007, the Rainbow variety accounted for 62% of the bearing acreage up from 57% in 2006. (NASS, 2007). This trend toward increased use of the virus resistant variety is led by Hawaii County growers, which produce 89% of the papaya crop.

Seed crops are Hawaii’s most valuable agricultural commodity, recently passing fresh pineapple and unprocessed sugarcane (NASS, 2006). Hawai‘i’s seed crop for the 2006/2007 growing season had a record estimated value of $97.6 million and was harvested from 4,820 acres of land (NASS, 2007). The seed industry has become an important source of new jobs, replacing some that were lost due to the decline of the pineapple on Oahu (Star Bulletin, 2006).

Hawaii's year-round growing season also makes it desirable for agriculture research. This research, which may include the use of genetically engineered varieties, is an additional source of state jobs and revenue. The Hawaii Agricultural Research Center is a private, non-profit organization that operates laboratories and field stations for horticultural crop research. The organization provides research assistance to local, mainland and international organizations, creating professional employment here in the islands. The College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources at the University of Hawaii also is active in biotechnology research. (See CTAHR page)

Agricultural biotechnology has become a source of skilled jobs that pay higher than average wages. It is estimated that agricultural positions account for 70% of the state's biotechnology employment (Hawaii State DOL, 2005).


Economic impact of biotechnology
Use of this site implies consent with our Usage Policy
The University of Hawai‘i is an equal opportunity/affirmative action institution.

copyright ©2008 University of Hawai‘i