Monday, February 24, 2014
Our Tour At Monsanto On Maui
We had a 3 part rotation of viewing slides inside their training room facility to going outside to talk to their operations manager and back inside for a talk by a female scientist with a summary and question answer time.
They emphasized the fact that GMO is in high demand. John had shared with us the fact that we added a billion people to our population in the last 13 years and we expect that happen again in 12 more years. That is a big thing to comprehend. It had shared that data with us in a 2 hour session a few days before our trip to Monsanto. It makes sense to me.
David had a good slide on the change on the islands since I graduated High School. There was 195,000 acres of sugar cane then and only 20,000 or so acres left today. Sugar production has went elsewhere. There were 65,000 acres of pineapple thanks to Thomas Dole but only 7500 acres today. Seed corn has increased from zero to 7,100 acres my notes say but there seemed to be more than that. That doesn't sound like much corn but those acres reproduce seed stocks as quick as 20,000 or more acres in Iowa. The difference is the climate.
Since seed production is so labor intensive, the trait companies are important employers on the islands for the regular people. Still the streets are full of homeless at night and we heard about the gift of one way flight's for such people from Chicago to Honolulu. We also heard that Hawaii did the same favor back, all on the tax payer's dollar.
The high tech trait insertion and bar coding never got explained much but the one breeder did say they were using the same technique as they did early on with bacteria like you find in the soil for gene insertion. That is where some think the flaw is in GMO, the interference of the gene by contamination.
It was a good tour and I learned a lot just watching the group interact and ask questions. It's clear that anti GMO people are the trait companies main problem. The fences and security helped point that out.
If you farm and visit the islands, I would recommend you try to visit one or more of the trait companies. The Monsanto and Pioneer tour was in detail but much different.