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Puerto Rico signs biotechnology law to simplify policies


Agricultural biotechnology, concerned with the genetic engineering of crops, is tied to the development of the biofuel sector which demands the supply and use of specially grown crops. STOCKXPERT

Puerto Rico has approved a law that would free its agricultural biotechnology (agricultural biotechnology) sector from being regulated by conflicting policies from local authorities, the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) said.

The law for the “promotion and development of agricultural biotechnological businesses” in Puerto Rico was signed this week by Gov. Luis Fortuño to promote the growth of agricultural biotechnology and to simplify regulations between the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Economic Development and Commerce.

Agricultural biotechnology, concerned with the genetic engineering of crops, is tied to the development of the biofuel sector since the manufacture of “agrofuels” demand the supply and use of specially grown crops. Puerto Rico currently earns as much as $30 million from the 11 biotech companies it houses. The agricultural biotechnology industry also currently employs 163 citizens full time and provides over a thousand more part-time and seasonal jobs, BIO said.

“The new legislation provides for preemption of any local authorities from attempting to regulate in this area. More than 16 state governments, including Puerto Rico, have adopted laws that preempt local authorities from attempting to regulate agricultural biotechnology. Neither North America’s farmers, nor our member companies can operate successfully within any system where a patchwork of differing rules and standards may apply to the same technology,” said Sharon Bomer Lauritsen, BIO executive vice president for food and agriculture.

According to Lauritsen, 309 million acres of biotech crops were planted in 25 countries by 13.3 million farmers last year, leading to food crops being grown at a lower cost on less land and with less impact on the environment. Critics of biotechnology processes such as genetic modification, however, suggest that figures such as these are questionable.

Puerto Rico has been the site of some major renewable energy and other green projects recently. Last week, Wal-Mart Puerto Rico and Sun Edison announced the building and operation of five stores which will use solar rooftop systems that can harness a total capacity of 4.3 megawatts, the largest renewable energy project in the country so far.


-   Jen Balboa

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