Thai scientists are developing a genetically modified strain of papaya in a bid to halt the spread of a disease that threatens to wipe out the fruit. "This is the last chance for the papaya in Thailand. Without this technology the fruit will die out," told assistant professor Sunee Kertbundit, leader of the project at Bangkok's Mahidol University. The Mahidol University team is aiming to create a strain of papaya that is immune to the ringspot virus, which Sunee said was "threatening the very survival of the papaya." If field trials are successful, Sunee anticipates that the seeds of the new strain will be distributed to farmers across Thailand. Sunee said she hoped opposition to genetically modified organism (GMO) foods, and government restrictions on GMO products, would not scupper the project. "It is our aim to help struggling farmers. The project has been sponsored by government grants, rather than multi-national corporations," she said. "I understand the concerns of environmental organisations but research has been and will continue to be thorough. Greenpeace International have been involved and it has also been supervised by the National Biosafety Committee."