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Agricultural Biotechnology in Puerto Rico

Industry information

The main activities performed by the AgBio industry include:

  • Pyramiding or trait integration

  • Field trials

  • Crop breeding and advancing generations

  • Yield trials

  • Pre-commercial seed production

  • Genetic base expansion


Economic Impact

For the first time ever, an in-depth study of our industry was undertaken to better understand its reach and positive impact on the economic development of the island. The report titled, “Economic Impact of the Agricultural Biotechnology Sector”, conducted by Estudios Técnicos, Inc, is a comprehensive review that highlights our industry’s crucial role in furthering Puerto Rico’s socioeconomic development, including significant economic activity, job creation, and community empowerment. 

Among the study’s key findings:

  • $80.2 million: Amount PRABIA-member companies contributed to the local economy in 2016


  • $134.9 million: Volume of economic activity that benefits the island


  • $5.36: ROI of every dollar given to PRABIA-member companies via incentives

  • 85%: Volume of seeds used for biotech agriculture worldwide that go through Puerto Rico

  • $2.0 million: Financial commitment of PRABIA-member companies to fund humanitarian efforts in the wake of hurricanes Irma and María

  • 124,600: Number of people who benefitted from said efforts

  • #1: Our industry is the first employer in the southern part of the Island and the top employer of agronomists and related scientists 

Building on the study’s findings, PRABIA strengthens its commitment to Puerto Rico’s development, community improvement, and contributing to a better quality of life for all through sustainable and transparent business operations.

Total UPRM Agronomists Hired by AgBio Companies per Year



For more than 30 years, PRABIA affiliated companies have been conducting research mainly with corn, soy, sorghum, sunflower, cotton, and rice crops. All of the seeds that are grown in Puerto Rico are exported to other countries to continue the research and development process and the development of new hybrids and varieties.


The agricultural biotechnology industry in Puerto Rico uses less than 1.5% of the land available for agriculture in Puerto Rico.

  • Puerto Rico’s climate provides a favorable advantage in the research and development process of new hybrids and varieties; it is possible to grow and harvest 52 weeks a year without interruption, which shortens the development time of new crops, compared to the time needed in other countries.

  • Puerto Rico plays an important role in the development of new crops. A large percentage of the seeds that are sold worldwide pass through Puerto Rico at some point during their developmental process.

Advantages of research and development in Puerto Rico:

  • Excellent weather year-round, allowing for continuous farming

  • Same seed regulatory system as USA

  • Employee availability and quality

  • Appropriate logistics for in/out seed freight

  • Fertile soil and water availability

  • Biotech and science-friendly environment

  • Highly specialized and skilled workforce



  • The AgBio industry in Puerto Rico focuses mainly on researching corn, soy, cotton, sorghum and sunflower crops.

  • The crop breeding process can be done with conventional or biotechnological methods. In both processes there will always be a plant, species or crop that will contribute the desired genes, which will be transferred to the plant that does not possess the desired trait. In the conventional method there is no control of the insertion site of the new gene or of the interaction with other different genes, whereas with biotechnology it is possible to introduce just the desired gene and place it in the specific, desired location. As a result, the developmental process of new crops is carried out in a faster and more efficient manner in terms of time and money, due to a reduced need to identify and choose useful recombinants.


  • The new corn hybrids developed in Puerto Rico are the raw material for the manufacture of more than 400 products, among which are adhesives, tortillas, textiles, rubber, aspirin, antibiotics, toothpaste, cereal, carbonated beverages, beer, cosmetics, ethanol and many more.

Corn Derived Products

  • The new varieties of soy developed in Puerto Rico are the raw material for the manufacture of products such as: paint, yeast, cereal, baby food, printer ink, fuel, anticorrosive agents, livestock feed, plastics, oils, etc.

Soybean Derived Products


Social responsibility

  • PRABIA is deeply committed to the community and to the furthering knowledge of biotechnology and applied sciences.

  • The association and the University of Puerto Rico, Mayagüez Campus, signed a collaborative memorandum of understanding that seeks to provide greater opportunities to students in the agricultural biotechnology industry.

  • Recently PRABIA and the Pontifical Catholic University of Puerto Rico in Ponce signed a collaborative agreement to foster and provide opportunities to students majoring in science and biotech fields. Each year, and in alliance with their Center for Biotech and Agro Biotech Education and Research (CEIBA, its Spanish acronym), PRABIA hosts a biotech summer camp in which outstanding high school students of the area are able to participate.

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