A blog maintained by Tevita Kete, PGR Officer

Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC), Suva, Fiji Islands



This weblog documents the activities of Pacific Agricultural Genetic Resources Network (PAPGREN), along with other information on plant genetic resources (PGR) in the Pacific.

The myriad varieties found within cultivated plants are fundamental to the present and future productivity of agriculture. PAPGREN, which is coordinated by the Land Resources Division of the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC), helps Pacific countries and territories to conserve their crop genetic diversity sustainably, with technical assistance from the Bioversity International (BI) and support from NZAID and ACIAR.

SPC also hosts the Centre of Pacific Crops and Trees (CEPaCT). The CEPaCT maintains regional in vitro collections of crops important to the Pacific and carries out research on tissue culture technology. The CEPaCT Adviser is Dr Mary Taylor (MaryT@spc.int), the CEPaCT Curator is Ms Valerie Tuia (ValerieT@spc.int).




PAPGREN coordination and support

  • CTA
  • SPC
  • CEPaCT

     genebank locations
    Click on the thumbnail to see a map of the locations of Pacific genebanks. Click here to download a regional directory of genebanks in the Pacific, including information on their location, contact details and holdings.

    PAPGREN partners

    Mr William Wigmore
    Director of Research
    Ministry of Agriculture
    Department of Resources & Development
    P.O. Box 96
    Cook Islands
    Tel: (682) 28711-29720
    Fax: (682) 21881
    Email: cimoa@oyster.net.ck

    Mr Adelino S. Lorens
    Agriculture Pohnpei
    Office of Economic Affairs
    P.O. Box 1028
    Pohnpei 96941
    Federated States of Micronesia
    Tel: (691) 3202400
    Fax: (691) 3202127
    Email: pniagriculture@mail.fm

    Dr Lois Englberger
    Island Food Community of Pohnpei
    Research Advisor
    P.O. Box 2299
    Pohnpei 96941
    Federated States of Micronesia
    Email: nutrition@mail.fm

    Mr Apisai Ucuboi
    Director of Research
    Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries & Forest
    Koronivia Research Station
    P.O. Box 77
    Fiji Islands
    Tel: (679) 3477044
    Fax: (679) 3477546-400262
    Email: apisainu@yahoo.com

    Dr Maurice Wong
    Service du Developpement Rural
    B.P. 100
    Tahiti 98713
    French Polynesia
    Tel: (689) 42 81 44
    Fax: (689) 42 08 31
    Email: maurice.wong@rural.gov.pf

    Mr Tianeti Beenna Ioane
    Head, Research Section
    Division of Agriculture
    Ministry of Environment, Lands and Agricultural Development
    P.O. Box 267
    Tel: (686) 28096-28108-28080
    Fax: (686) 28121
    Email : agriculture@tskl.net.ki; Beenna_ti@yahoo.com

    Mr Frederick Muller
    Ministry of Resources & Development
    P.O. Box 1727
    Majuro 96960
    Marshall Islands
    Tel: (692) 6253206
    Fax: (692) 6257471
    Email: rndsec@ntamar.net

    Mr Herman Francisco
    Bureau of Agriculture
    Ministry of Resources & Development
    P.O. Box 460
    Koror 96940
    Tel: (680) 4881517
    Fax: (680) 4881725
    Email: bnrd@pnccwg.palaunet.com

    Ms Rosa Kambuou
    Principal Scientist PGR
    NARI Dry Lowlands Programme
    Laloki Agricultural Research Station
    P.O. Box 1828
    National Capital District
    Papua New Guinea
    Tel: (675) 3235511
    Fax: (675) 3234733
    Email: kambuou@global.net.pg

    Ms Laisene Samuelu
    Principal Crop Development Officer
    Crops Division
    Ministry of Agriculture, Forests, Fisheries & Meteorology
    P.O. Box 1874
    Tel: (685) 23416-20605
    Fax: (685) 20607-23996
    Email: lsamuelu@lesamoa.net

    Mr Jimi Saelea
    Director of Research
    Department of Agriculture and Livestock
    P.O. Box G13
    Solomon Islands
    Tel: (677) 27987

    Mr Tony Jansen
    Planting Materials Network
    Kastom Gaden Association
    Burns Creek, Honiara
    P.O. Box 742
    Solomon Islands
    Tel: (677) 39551
    Email: kastomgaden@solomon.com.sb

    Mr Finao Pole
    Head of Research
    Ministry of Agriculture & Forests
    P.O. Box 14
    Tel: (676) 23038
    Fax: (676) 24271
    Email: thaangana@hotmail.com

    Mr Frazer Bule Lehi
    Head of Research
    Department of Agriculture & Rural Development
    Private Mail Bag 040
    Port Vila
    Tel: (678) 22525
    Fax: (678) 25265
    Email: flehi@hotmail.com

    Other links

    Other CROP agencies
    Forum Secretariat
    University of the South Pacific

    Pacific biodiversity
    Biodiversity hotspots
    Breadfruit Institute
    Hawaiian native plants
    Intellectual property rights
    Nature Conservancy
    WWF South Pacific Program

    Other Pacific organizations
    Foundation of the Peoples of the South Pacific
    Micronesian Seminar
    Te Puna web directory

    Pacific news
    Cafe Pacific
    CocoNET Wireless
    Island Directory
    Pacific Islands News
    Pacific Islands Report
    Pacific Islands Travel
    Pacific Time
    South Pacific travel
    Time Pacific

    Interested in GIS?



    Monday, July 25, 2005

    Biotech brouhaha in Hawaii

    Some native Hawaiian leaders harbor concerns about developing the state's life science industries

    Article URL: http://starbulletin.com/2005/07/24/business/story1.html © 1996-2005
    The Honolulu Star-Bulletin: www.starbulletin.com

    By Stewart Yerton syerton@starbulletin.com

    WHEN the Hawaii Life Sciences Council unveiled its "innovation road map" last month, the event attracted some of Hawaii's leading lights to discuss development of the state's biomedical industries.

    Gov. Linda Lingle led a roster of speakers that included Calvin Say, the speaker of the state House of Representatives, and Jennifer Sabas, U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye's chief of staff. Mike Fisch, publisher of the Honolulu Advertiser, was the event's emcee.

    Also taking the podium were people who say they've often been ignored when the business establishment made its plans: representatives of the native Hawaiian community.
    Peter Apo, director of the Native Hawaiian Hospitality Association, who was one of the speakers, said the Hawaii Life Sciences Council is trying to avoid the missteps made by other industries, which often failed to consult native Hawaiians before forging ahead.

    "All the others occurred without consent of the community," Apo said. "Maybe this time we can get it right."

    But getting it right might be easier said than done.

    Although the forum included testimonials from several native Hawaiian representatives -- including Merwina Cash-Kaeo, president and chief executive of the nonprofit group Alu Like; William Souza, Kaho po'o Nui and protocol officer of the Royal Order of Kamehameha; and Melissa Ha'a Moniz and Gerry Lam of the recently formed Ka Pukui Laau, or Hawaii Bioethics Council -- others, who were not asked to speak, say they have significant concerns, particularly about biotechnology and the commercialization and genetic alteration of Hawaiian plants.
    Mililani Trask, a Hawaiian activist who has studied the issues, said it would be an overstatement to say that Hawaiian groups universally have embraced the Hawaii Life Sciences Council and the industries it represents.

    "I really think that's a mischaracterization of where we are as the Hawaiian community," she said.

    "It's not that we're against biotechnology," said Malia Nobrega, president of the Waikiki Hawaiian Civic Club. "But it needs to be appropriate."

    Jobs and disease

    These comments illustrate a tension between some native Hawaiian leaders and an industry that has been targeted by civic leaders and policy-makers as a field ripe for development.

    Life sciences include the medical and health-care fields, as well as those involving research and development of pharmaceuticals, medical devices and genetically modified plants.

    Growth opportunities extend far beyond traditional health care, which alone provides a huge job base that is only expected to grow as the population ages. Research projects, which are often financed with federal money, create well-paying jobs for researchers. And fruits of the research can spawn startup companies seeking to commercialize the intellectual property -- a process that can take years, employing more scientists and other professionals along the way.
    Many successful biotech startups eventually go public, creating wealth for local investors and lasting jobs for local employees.

    The life science industries also have another attribute appealing to supporters: at their heart, the industries seek to improve health and quality of life.

    "This is about curing cancer and diabetes and cutting the costs of health care," said Lisa Gibson, president of the Hawaii Life Sciences Council, a private nonprofit economic development organization.

    The overarching question, Gibson said, is "What do we need to do? What do we need to do to grow this sector?"

    The movement already has considerable momentum.

    In what developers hope will be a magnet for the creation of a biotech hub in Kakaako, the University of Hawaii has opened its John A. Burns School of Medicine in Kakaako and is developing a cancer research center there. Kamehameha Schools, a major landowner in Kakaako, has hired a Washington, D.C.-based consulting firm, New Economy Strategies, to create a plan for further developing the area into a biotech hub.

    Hawaii already has produced a crop of biotech startups notable for a place its size. Among the most mature of these is Hawaii Biotech, which is close to conducting clinical trials on its anti-inflammatory drugs and vaccines for West Nile virus and dengue fever. Hawaii Biotech employs 75 workers with average annual salaries of $80,000, said David Watumull, the company's president.

    Despite the promise for that kind of economic development, some life sciences projects have faced significant opposition, particularly projects involving Hawaiian plants.

    For example, concerns about University of Hawaii research into taro, considered a sacred plant by native Hawaiians, have led UH's College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources to issue a statement saying it is not conducting genetic-engineering research on Hawaiian taro and will not do so at least until the Hawaii Bioethics Council has had time to study the issue and confer with university leaders.

    Critics also have decried genetic modifications of papaya. Although proponents say the GMO papaya saved the Hawaiian papaya industry, critics say the risks associated with GMO papaya outweigh the benefits. Already, critics say, GMO papaya plants have pollinated other unmodified papaya plants in the islands, something they call "biopollution."

    But critics, who say Diversa's activities are acts of "biopiracy," charge that the university has given away property of the Hawaiian people, who will not benefit from the deal.
    "It's like they're just giving away our biodiversity and leaving nothing for us," Nobrega said.
    Kevin Kelly, director of business development at UH's Center for Marine Microbial Ecology & Diversity, said the university has not given anything away. Rather, he said, the agreement with Diversa is a research partnership similar to what UH would enter with another university.
    Although the partnership hasn't yet produced revenue for UH, Kelly said, Diversa has offered internships for UH students, donated expensive equipment to the university and provided contacts with other potential partners.

    Still, Kelly said the university welcomes dialogue with the native Hawaiian community.
    "We are working harder than ever to engage this community as we move forward," said Kelly, who also is on the board of the Hawaii Life Sciences Council.

    Legislation banning bioprospecting has been introduced in the Legislature, but thus far has stalled.

    Declaration vs. biotech

    The concerns have been serious enough to cause Hawaiian activists to create the annual Ka Aha Pono, or Native Hawaiian Intellectual Property Rights Conference, involving Hawaiian cultural practitioners, teachers, academics and lawyers.

    The first event, in October 2003, produced the "Paoakalani Declaration," which is hardly an endorsement of biotechnology. In fact, the declaration says the industry imposes "western intellectual property rights over our traditional, cultural land-based resources" and "converts our collective cultural property into individualized property for purchase, sale and development."

    The declaration concludes that native Hawaiians should have the right to determine "appropriate use of our traditional knowledge, cultural expressions and art forms, and natural and biological resources."

    Trask and Nobrega said the Hawaii Life Sciences Council has ignored the declaration.
    "What we've been trying over the last couple of years is really just to hear the voices of native Hawaiians and get native Hawaiians involved in the process," Nobrega said.
    Gibson, the Hawaii Life Sciences Council's president, said the council was not aware of the declaration and that last month's meeting was meant simply to introduce a road map. She welcomed input from other Hawaiian groups.

    "There's a big round table that we're trying to create," Gibson said.

    Also concerned about the council's approach is Paul Neves, a spokesman for the Royal Order of Kamehameha on the Big Island. Neves said that Souza is a member of a Royal Order of Kamehameha group that split with the original order, and then incorporated. Neves questioned the group's sincerity.

    "When you're talking about a corporation speaking for Hawaiians and saying 'We're going to be traditionally correct,' it's lip service," Neves said.

    Souza said his order is the original one and called Neves "a disgruntled chief."

    Commercializing nature

    Native Hawaiians are not the only people struggling to reconcile their values with issues emerging at science's frontiers. David Magnus, director of the Stanford University Center for Bioethics in Palo Alto, Calif., said questions involving the commercialization of species frequently produce tensions.

    On one hand, Magnus said, virtually every religion values bettering the world, which is a broad goal of biomedical research. However, Magnus said, religions generally frown on viewing the world in "instrumental terms."

    "It's important that we not go too far and see everything in the world as a commodity for our use," he said.

    Jonathan Osorio, director of the University of Hawaii's Center for Hawaiian Studies, said traditional Hawaiian values share that concern.

    "It's always difficult to combine a capitalist enterprise with traditional Hawaiian values," he said.
    During her speech at the forum, Lingle said policy-makers must take seriously concerns about issues such as genetically modified crops.

    "These concerns must be addressed in an open, fair and culturally sensitive manner that includes that latest information about this complex and rapidly evolving field," Lingle said. "We must balance the needs of science and technology with the needs to protect our state's unique and fragile environment."

    A place at the table

    Generally, native Hawaiian representatives at the forum spoke in broader terms.

    Apo, for example, focused on a management model based on the Hawaiian value of pono, or balance and harmony. Driven by pono values, the management model is meant to create corporate cultures offering dignity to employees and respect for Hawaii's community. It embraces a "triple bottom line": driven not just by profits but the benefits the enterprise brings to the people of the host community and the place in general.

    In an interview, Hawaii Biotech's Watamull called the pono model "perfect for startups."
    Cash-Kaeo, the president of Alu Like, said she and other Hawaiian leaders were brought to Hawaii Life Sciences Council's table early in the process, invited by Gibson and Enterprise Honolulu President and Chief Executive Mike Fitzgerald to attend roughly a dozen meetings over the course of a year.

    "We had a place at the table, and it wasn't just a token place," she said in an interview. "Usually we're invited after everything is decided."

    In his speech, Souza focused on the use and embracing of technology by Hawaii's royal chiefs.
    Although Souza said in an interview that he shares concerns about certain activities, such as bioprospecting, he said Hawaiians seize an opportunity to engage in dialogue with the industry.
    "Reaching out for science and technology doesn't mean acquiescing," he said. "It means working with it."

    Lam, who is chairman of the Hawaii Bioethics Council, said it is essential to reconcile traditional Hawaiian values with biotechnology development, which he described as a wave that is carrying opportunity to the state.

    If the Hawaii Life Sciences Council has failed to reach out to any concerned and competent Hawaiian leaders so far, Lam said, it might have been simply an oversight.

    "They still have a lot to learn about the host culture," Lam said. "But that's OK. Nobody's perfect in the beginning."

    Other article: Noni shows cancer promise

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