Father of tropical sweet corn donates $1 million to UH

Published On: Nov 27 2013 04:17:00 PM HST

The University of Hawaii's College of Tropical Agriculture is a million dollars richer tonight, thanks to some hard work out the corn fields and some smart investments.

HONOLULU -

They call him "Dr. B." It’s short for Brewbaker.

But maybe it should be "Dr. C" as in C for corn.

On Wednesday, a room full of Jim Brewbaker’s admirers, colleagues and students came to pay homage.

Dr B. picks up another international award for his research work, but he is gifting one million dollars to support graduate research.

It's his plan to help grow future plant breeders--and tackle hunger around the world.

"One of the things about this wonderful industry is that it attracts more PH.D.'s and masters degrees than any other industry in Hawaii," said Brewbaker.

KITV spent time with Brewmaker five years ago just as Hawaii's seed corn industry hit $100 million.

Today it's more like $250 million.

"The greatest tragedy of our times is the poor people get poorer, and the rich people get so ridiculously rich," Brewbaker said.

This "father of tropical sweet corn" can boast that his students work at all of the big five seed companies.

He would like to think his gift will plant a "philanthropy seed," And maybe, just maybe those companies would consider investing in the research work of the College of Tropical Agriculture whose reach has extended world-wide.

For years, Brewbaker has watched with interest, the growing green movement, along with the anti-GMO sentiment.

"There are people who talk about GMOs as if they were parasites, or pesticides or bedbugs or terrible things, and they don't have any idea what GM means," Brewbaker said.

 Dr B. wouldn't presume to tell Kauai what to do about its GMO pushback, but he cautions: be careful to separate fact and fiction.

 "400 million acres around the world this year of GMO crops, and  there's not even a sneeze. There's not a single bit of reliable evidence that these genetically modified plants have any medical concern," Brewbaker said.

This retired professor still spends three or four days out in the field. His picking days aren't over yet.

“Tomorrow morning early!” said Brewbaker.

And then, he will sit down to Thanksgiving dinner which will include sweet corn.

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