SAN JUAN – U.S. multinational Monsanto has selected Puerto Rico as the regional site for seed production, investing $5 million in the Caribbean island over the past year.
The head of Monsanto’s Community Affairs department in Puerto Rico, Miguel Pereira, on Thursday told EFE that the island is key for the firm’s research and development of cotton, corn and soybean seeds.
“Puerto Rico is one link in the chain, given that its climate permits research and production all year,” said the official regarding Monsanto’s activities in the U.S. commonwealth, where it has been operating since the mid-1990s.
Pereira emphasized that, for example, cotton grown in Puerto Rico are being used to develop seeds that are sold worldwide and the seeds of soybeans coming from the island are used by farmers throughout the Americas.
He said that Monsanto’s most recent investment in Puerto Rico includes a huge greenhouse for developing crops in shaded areas, a project that has resulted in better seed production.
Monsanto last October announced a series of cost-cutting measures on the world level due to a decline in sales, including a plan to lay off more than 15 percent of its workforce in the next two years.
Hundreds of people demonstrated last May in San Juan against Monsanto’s activities in Puerto Rico.
The protesters charged that Monsanto has transformed the island into one of its largest experimentation centers in the world for genetically modified crops.
The demonstrators said that the proliferation of companies focusing on transgenic experimentation in Puerto Rico has taken up the best cropland on the island and resulted in billions of dollars in economic incentives.