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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Friday, May 26, 2006

Seed-growing a $144 million industry here

By Sean Hao
Advertiser Staff Writer

Hawai'i's seed-crop industry generates $144 million in economic activity annually and provides about 2,000 jobs, according to a study released yesterday by the Hawaii Crop Improvement Association.

The industry spends $59 million annually. The figures were released yesterday during a meeting of the Hawaii Economic Association the Plaza Club in downtown Honolulu.

With its rich soil and year-round growing season, Hawai'i has become a haven for genetically modified crop research. The value of the state's seed-crop industry, 40 percent of which is estimated to involve genetically engineered crops, has grown nearly fivefold in the past decade.

At the same time Hawai'i has become a focal point in the debate about the risks and value of such work. Friction between environmentalists and other concerned groups and the biotech industry surfaced most recently in relation to the use of local crops to grow industrial and pharmaceutical compounds. Last year, that opposition halted a Big Island project planning to use algae for trial production of pharmaceutical drugs.

Reach Sean Hao at shao@honoluluadvertiser.com.