Pioneer posts half a century on Kauai

  • Dennis Fujimoto / The Garden Island

    Tim Glenn is vice president of global seed business platform for Corteva Agriscience.

WAIMEA — The Corteva Agriscience plant DNA lab is abuzz with activity as Pioneer Seed Company celebrates 50 years in Hawaii this week, culminating in a Friday celebration on the Westside.

“At 50 years, we’re proud, coming from a humble history to the impact and technology that we have today,” said Tim Glenn, vice president of Global Seed Business Platform for Corteva Agriscience.

Corteva Agriscience is the agricultural division of DowDuPont and on Kauai is the arm that uses molecular breeding to develop and grow a variety of corn seeds and soybeans.

It’s part of a global network, part of the process that feeds new seeds into markets worldwide. Glenn says 90 percent of the corn varieties on the market, for instance, passed through Kauai at some point.

And the work that goes into a single variety could take around seven years to accomplish.

“From discovery or creation of the new inbred to the seed you’d sell to a farmer, it can take that long,” Glenn said.

When DuPont Pioneer began research in 1968 in Kekaha, scientists analyzed new plant varieties by growing them in the fields, learning what their progeny plants were doing as they matured.

Technology and data driven science have both kicked up a notch since then, and Corteva Agriscience scientists can now analyze the molecular structure of the plants, cutting down on the amount of land and the amount of time needed for their work.

“You don’t have to sort it out in the field,” Glenn said. “You increase your success rate and your rate of gain.”

Laurie Yoshida, communications manager for the Waimea Research Center, pointed out the molecular propagation process is different than what produces what’s known as the “GMO” seeds.

Shortly explained, genetic engineering (GMO) is when singled genes for new traits are given to a plant. Molecular breeding is the selective breeding of two parent plants to produce a desired progeny.

“The GMO labs are on the Mainland,” Yoshida said.

With ever-changing technology and a current $12 million project to enhance DuPont Pioneer’s Waimea Research Center and the former DuPont Pioneer Kekaha Parent Seed location, Glenn and Yoshida said the company is looking forward to a bright future on Kauai.

The expansion is triggering about 50 technical job openings, adding employees to their 140 personnel and community activities like the Harvest Festival and Relay for Life participation will continue to be going strong.

“We’re celebrating the past and looking forward to a bright future,” Glenn said. “The investments in Kekaha enforce a long-term commitment to Kauai.”

  1. I saw a Vampire once July 15, 2018 10:03 am Reply

    This is a big job and also important job too. Waimea town has been quite busier than usual as of late. I am not going to make any fuss over it, but since the topic of pesticide controls is important to the residents of Kaua’i, I do think the local businessmen have already felt the impact of the new rulings about the use of pesticides in the vegetation grown locally. What are people doing on the west side to get this message across to the greater public? Not sure. But the election is a hint that they will tear this to apart and make it into another issue for all to abide by. Are you voting this primary election? Yes, but not here. No. They are a nuisance to me. Not interested in politics. Just get it done.

  2. andy July 15, 2018 3:50 pm Reply

    Congratulations on 50 years of drenching this beautiful island in poison. No shame at all, yea? Some day in the future, hopefully not too long from now, Pioneer and Dow all the others will be long gone and we will shake our heads and say “Who the hxxx allowed that to happen?”

    1. Just Saying July 16, 2018 1:24 pm Reply

      Change is driven by the truth. That is why your tiresome propaganda and Hooser’s exaggerations never connected with more than a minority of Kauai voters (mostly unaffected Northshore dwellers).

  3. andy July 16, 2018 11:17 pm Reply

    Actually I’ve been a Westside dweller for the last 40 years and I pray that I’m unaffected-by all the poison, that is!

    1. Just Saying July 17, 2018 1:17 pm Reply

      Hoist by his own petard!
      40 years and unaffected!

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