SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – The arrival of spring also means the arrival of the first ever Agricultural Biotechnology Season’s End Festival, a celebration that highlights the industry’s achievements and innovations, as represented by the Puerto Rico Agricultural Biotechnology Industry Association (PRABIA). The initiative gathered leaders from the private sector, state and municipal governments, academia and other sectors that see agricultural biotechnology in Puerto Rico as an engine that drives socioeconomic development.
Puerto Rico’s Agriculture Secretary; the dean and director of the School of Agricultural Sciences and the associate dean of Art and Science Research at the University of Puerto Rico, Mayagüez campus; the director of the Biotechnology and Agrobiotechnology Research Center (CEIBA, in Spanish) at the Pontifical Catholic University of Puerto Rico; government officials from southern and southwestern municipalities; and others, showed their support of the work being done by PRABIA and its member companies.
For Ramón Molinary, president of PRABIA, the Season’s End Festival “is an island-wide celebration in which we recognize and express our gratitude for the excellent work being done by the more than 5,000 employees we represent. It is also a platform to highlight the work that is performed in Puerto Rico, in fulfillment of our mission to ensure the permanence, growth, continuity, competitiveness, and strength of the industry on the Island.
For his part, Carlos Flores Ortega, head of Puerto Rico’s Department of Agriculture, stressed the importance of the work that PRABIA performs. “This event showcases the positive impact of the industry, given that most of the seeds that are grown around the world, initially, begin their research and development phase here in Puerto Rico. The festival also reiterates PRABIA’s and the government’s commitment to food safety, sowing the seed for the industry’s continued growth.”
PRABIA also used the occasion to present its corporate video, a locally produced project that showcases the pivotal role the Island plays in the industry, as well as the efforts being made by PRABIA-member companies around the world to address urgent issues such as food safety, famine, and the nutritional quality of foods, among others.
In addition to debuting its video, the Agricultural Biotechnology Season’s End Festival hosted Val Giddings, president of PrometheusAB. “I am happy to be in Puerto Rico and give the presentation Biotechnology Applied to Everyday Life. The exchange of knowledge about this technology that has been practiced over thousands of years by our ancestors, and which has been in constant evolution, is always of great benefit to consumers. The research being done in this industry has a positive impact around the world, benefitting consumers and farmers. The industry also prioritizes environmental sustainability and wellbeing. Activities such as this Festival are important because they give us the opportunity to discuss, in depth, a very important subject,” added Giddings.
“Giddings is one of the most respected figures in the industry, known for his work in the fields of compliance, strategic planning, policy, regulation, international affairs, and communications related to agricultural biotechnology. His participation in PRABIA’s Festival is a testament to the important work that is being done on the Island for the entire world,” said Beatriz Carrión, executive director of PRABIA.
In his presentation, Giddings highlighted contributions being made by the agricultural biotechnology sector to improve the quality of life around the world, and how it is an instrumental part of modern agriculture. He also used the forum to discuss industry myths and realities, for example: the meaning and impact of genetically modified crops, the differences between conventional and modified seeds, health benefits to consumers, and others.