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Farmers devastated over papaya tree vandalism on the Big Island

By Nana Ohkawa
Published On: Sep 28 2013 05:53:00 PM HST

A papaya tree slaughter is what farmers are calling the recent vandalism on the Big Island. And they have their suspicions on who committed the crime.

PAHOA, Hawaii -

A papaya tree slaughter is what farmers are calling the recent vandalism on the Big Island. And they have their suspicions on who committed the crime.

More than 100 papaya trees were cut down with machetes this past week in Puna. They were almost a year old and ready to harvest in February. The farmer who leases out part of his land to a college student and his family says the farmers are devastated.

"He feels I can tell very saddened by it and trying to keep back the tears all day," said Peter Houle with Hawaii Papaya Industry Association.

"We are sick and tired of it. We are angered about it. We feel for him and his family. It is the second time this has happened to the family," said Houle.

In, 2011, vandals cut down more than 10 acres of papaya trees, attacking three farms overnight. It's the third time in three years that vandals have destroyed papaya trees in Puna. No arrests have been made, but the farmers have their suspicions as farmers who use genetically modified organisms.

"This is a very disgusting immature act if they want to give a message of anti-GMO," said farmer Kenneth Kamiya with Kamiya Gold, INC.

He adds, "A lot of the farmers are wondering are they going to visit us? I also wonder will one of them come into my field and cut my fields down."

Some say they will be increasing security on their farms.

"We feel that the farmers are working hard as it is. They have to struggle when something like this happens its a very disturbing, disgusting act," said Kamiya.

Police estimate the damage at 3000 dollars. KITV4 has reached out to Anti-GMO groups for comment. Our calls have not yet been returned.

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