Puerto Rico has passed a new law designed to position the island as an agricultural biotech Mecca. Legislators passed the Law for the Promotion and Development of Agricultural Biotechnological Businesses, signed in August by Governor Luis Fortuño. The new law introduces financing incentives and a series of measures designed to ease the process by which biotech corporations obtain trade rights and licenses on the island. As long as they comply with all the legal requirements, firms will receive assistance for projects that include the development and mass production of novel transgenic plants, the use of genetically modified plants to produce pharmaceuticals and nutraceuticals or to act as catalysts in environmental cleaning processes. Since 1987 Puerto Rico has registered 2,177 official field tests for genetically modified (GM) crops, placing the island as the third preferred place for planting experimental or commercial GM crops, after Hawaii and the US state of Indiana. Currently, several US universities and 11 biotech firms are located in Puerto Rico. The island's excellent weather, which enables winter nurseries and year-round growing cycles, accounts for this preference, says Santiago Arauca, Public Affairs Manager for Monsanto Puerto Rico. The new law, he adds, could help biotech corporations expand, boosting the island's economic activity. Critics such as Puerto Rico's Pro-Ecological Agriculture Coalition argue that the new law favors corporations but fails to evaluate the negative impacts.
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Guerrero, V. Puerto Rico GM crop haven. Nat Biotechnol 27, 970 (2009). https://doi.org/10.1038/nbt1109-970a