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Cuba's first GM corn

Cuba will be planting its first genetically modified (GM) corn to help reduce its dependence on costly food imports. The Cuban Center for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (CIGB) of Havana will begin the experimental plantation of 125 acres with the GM corn, provisionally called FR-Bt1. This corn is currently undergoing regulatory approval for its environmental release. “Cuban rules are very strict... but in Cuba there is a political will for employing the technology,” explains Carlos Borroto, deputy director of the state-run center, and head of the Cuban National Program of Agricultural Biotechnology. The FR-Bt1, whose technical details cannot be revealed due to confidentiality clauses in the registration process, is aimed at animal feed and will be used exclusively in Cuba. The GM crop is engineered to resist the country's main pest: the lepidopteron Spodoptera frugiperda. The FR-Bt1 corn was developed by a large CIGB team, led by Camilo Ayra, in collaboration with other research bodies. The entire project was financed with public funds from the Cuban Council of State. “Because the corn has shown an elevated level of multiplication, some 2.5 acres could produce enough seeds to plant 300 acres,” says Borroto. Although the use of GM organisms is debated in Cuba, public perception is mostly positive because these developments do not seek commercial gain but the nation's food sufficiency. The outcome of these field trials is expected for April 2009.


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Guerrero, V. Cuba's first GM corn. Nat Biotechnol 27, 110 (2009).

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