About 100 genetically modified papaya trees were hacked down with machetes on Thursday night on Hawaii's Big Island. The act is believed to be an act of eco-terrorism rather than random vandalism as the Big Island is currently considering the future of biotech on the island. Two bills that would impose restrictions on biotech are currently up for debate, according to Honolulu's Civil Beat. One of the bills would require that the island's GMO papaya fields be cut down entirely, and farmers caught growing GMO papaya would face jail and fines.
The majority of papayas in Hawaii are grown from genetically modified seeds that are resistant to a ring spot virus that wiped out Hawaii's papayas in the 1950s. The genetically modified version is credited with saving Hawaii's $11 million papaya industry.
Thursday's incident -- the damages of which are valued at about three thousand dollars -- was relatively contained. In 2011, about 10 acres of trees were cut down on the same papaya farm, and the year before, some 8,500 papaya trees were similarly cut down. The police never solved those cases.
Acts of eco-terrorism aren't unique to genetically modified papayas. Activists have taken weed-whackers to drought-resistant wheat crops in Australia and genetically modified eggplants in the Philippines.
Regarding the 2011 papaya incident, Delan Perry, vice president of the Hawaii Papaya Industry Association, told the AP, "It's hard to imagine anybody putting that much effort into doing something like that. It means somebody has to have passionate reason."