W. Roca, C. Espinoza, and A. Panta
Genetic Resources Conservation and Characterization Division, Centro Internacional de la Papa (CIP), Lima, Peru

This article provides a brief account of key developments in agricultural applications of biotechnology in Latin American and Caribbean (LAC) countries; it also focuses on the potential of developing value-added products from the biological diversity harbored in the region. Most agricultural biotechnologies involve tissue culture and DNA-based markers for germplasm conservation, production of disease-free planting material, and assistance to genetic improvement. More recently, LAC countries such as Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Honduras, Mexico, and Uruguay have commercially grown transgenic crops. Advanced biotechnologies, such as genetic sequencing and microarray genomics, are differentially utilized in some LAC countries, with Brazil being at the forefront, for characterization, mapping, and trait screening for important crops and pathogens. There is great potential for the integration of these technologies with chemical analyses in bioprospecting biodiversity. Implementation of effective regulatory frameworks for access, genetic resource benefit sharing, and biosafety need urgent attention in most countries.

Key words: Biodiversity, biotechnology, Latin American and Caribbean, sustainable utilization, valorization.