Yesterday was our first day at the BIO 2010 International Convention in Chicago. With over 15,000 attendees, it is the largest biotech conference in the world. Just a glance in the exhibit hall gives you a good view of how far ag biotech has come in the last decade. China, India, Puerto Rico and Costa Rica have staked a claim in the ag biotech sector. Did you know that Puerto Rico has more biotech companies per square mile than any other country/region? We spoke to the Executive Director of the Puerto Rico Industrial Development Corporation (PRIDCO), who talked about the many benefits of expanding biotech operations and research and development on this tiny island. Notably, he pointed out that the tax incentives and access to highly-skilled human capital are the main drivers behind this expansion.
We also had a chance to interview Margaret Laggis, a biotech advocate from Vermont who works on changing state and federal legislation/policies to ones that are more supportive of ag biotech. When asked about the greatest misperception in Vermont about ag biotech, she said that many people think that only big corporations benefit from ag biotech when, in fact, there’s an economic benefit to the farmers, as well as overall environmental benefits. She also mentioned that there’s an “education gap.” As Margaret explained, many people don’t understand the science behind the technology and base their opinion on a lack of understanding about the science. To overcome challenges of ag biotech acceptance in Vermont and elsewhere, there will have to be greater education of the public and our lawmakers about the science and facts of the technology.
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