Genetically modified corn is being grown for the first time
in Cuba as a part of an experiment aimed at obtaining high-yield
Three hectares of genetically modified corn have been planted
as part of an experiment on transgenic corn FR-Bt1 carried out
by the National Center for Genetic Engeneering and Biotechnology
The crop is being grown in Yaguajay, Sancti Spiritus by the
Valle de Caonao company. A specialist from the CIGB, Raúl
Armas, told JR that the Cuban variety has been modified to be
more resistance to the Palomilla del maíz, the principal
pest that affects this crop, and to increase the crop’s
tolerance to pesticides.
The research, conducted according to the strict biological
and environmental security norms set in Cuba, sets out to produce
high-yield varieties for human and animal consumption.
The project aims to substitute imports and is being implemented
in coordination with local agricultural and environmental groups.
Some 60 hectares are scheduled to be planted in the provinces
of Havana, Matanzas, Ciego de Ávila and Santiago de Cuba.
This variety of transgenic corn was first planted in the Valle
de Caonao at the end of last December. The variety features
no significant modifications to the plant or cob, maintaining
its nutritional value and flavour. The first harvest is scheduled
for late March or early April.
This genetically modified crop needs little maintenance requiring
only watering and spraying with herbicides. Although these first
hectares were planted by hand, farm machinery will be used on
Armas noted that the first transgenic crops worldwide were
planted in 1994; by 2008, some 120 million hectares were covered
by genetically modified crops, especially soya beans, corn and
cotton. In the case of corn, 22 percent of the worldwide harvest
is of genetically engineering verities, principally in the United
States, Canada, Argentine and South Africa —the major
corn-producing countries. Other experiments on transgenic sweet
potatoe, tomatoes, potatoes and rice are being conducted across