Don't Miss Out

Subscribe to OCA's News & Alerts.

Monsanto's Caribbean Experiment

For related articles and more information, please visit OCA's Genetic Engineering page and our Millions Against Monsanto page.
When environmentalist Juan Rosario traveled to an Amish religious community in Iowa, to learn to make compost, he was surprised that they had a laboratory and the services of an expert in chemistry. What was a scientist doing in a place where people live far from technology and practice ecological farming with the simplest of methods?

An Amish dressed in their style, with a wide-brimmed black hat, white shirt, and black pants and black jacket, pointed toward a large cornfield on a nearby farm. "The scientist helps us verify that pollen from genetically modified corn does not contaminate our crops," he told Juan Rosario. "It's the same corn that you develop in Salinas." Puerto Rico, laboratory for corn, sorghum, cotton and transgenic soybeans.

The island is hosting a reality that the government hides and sponsors: the island is an important center for eight companies, seven of them multinationals, that are developing the first generation of genetically modified seeds for distribution to United States and around the world. The strongholds of these corporations extend into public and private farms, especially in the best farmland along the island's southern coast, which in the last century was under the rule of His Majesty sugarcane, exalted by large landowners that sought to take over the land.

Most of these seed developers occupy more than the 500-acre limit that the Constitution of Puerto Rico allows, while receiving hefty government benefits and advantages under the Law to Promote and Develop Agricultural Biotechnology Companies of 2009, tailored to favor them. Among them is the world's main transgenic seed developer, Monsanto, which leases about 1,500 acres of land between Juana Díaz, Santa Isabel, Isabela and Aguadilla. Of these acres, 500 are public property administered by the Land Authority, and the rest belongs mostly to the Succession Serrallés in several southern towns, confirmed Juan Santiago, the company's chief operating officer in Puerto Rico.