Area km2: 51,100

Population: 5,094,118

Capital: San Jose

ISO 3166: CR


Population density:
99.7 hab/km2

National flower:
Guaria morada
(Guarianthe skinneri)



Costa Rica is a small country, whose arable land is mainly devoted to the cultivation of bananas and coffee. Due to its small size, Costa Rica has focused on generating niche export markets, among which we can name counter-season cotton and soybean seed multiplication. Costa Rican agriculture ranks second in the country’s export revenues, behind the medical equipment sector, and followed by the food sector. Agricultural exports mainly consist of pineapples, frozen fruits, ornamental plants, mango, chayote, plantains and papaya. Costa Rica imports large amounts of wheat and soybean, mainly from the United States, Brazil and Argentina, both for human consumption and animal feed, and, also, small amounts of cotton for further processing.


 GM Crops


Does the country plant GM crops?





Area grown with GM crops

Even though there is no commercial production of transgenic crops in Costa Rica, GM crops are planted in the country for the production of seed for export, and for production of niche export market products. At present, nearly 150 hectares are sown with insect-resistant and herbicide-tolerant GM cotton for the production of seeds for export. Regarding niche export markets, nearly 60 hectares are planted with pink pineapple (Pink glow®).






International trade of GM crops

The GM cotton seed produced by Costa Rica is exported to the United States. In particular, breeding lines are produced for commercial valuation and seed increases are made. The fiber obtained from these lots is exported to China and Turkey or sent to local cotton bale processors. GM pink pineapple, a niche product, is exported to the United States, Canada and, by exclusive request, to the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Kuwait and Hong Kong. About 360 pineapples are exported per month. For more information about the contribution of GM crops from Latin American countries to world trade visit the Trade section.






Are there local developments?


Some examples of local developments

Herbicide-tolerant rice, developed by the Centro de Investigación en Biología Celular y Molecular de la Universidad de Costa Rica (CIBCM-UCR).

Fungus-resistant bananas, (resistant to black sigatoka), developed by the Centro Agronómico Tropical de Investigación y Enseñanza (CATIE).





 Benefits of GM crops


Transgenic seed industry contributes to the development of the region, generating direct employment in provinces of medium development index and recognized for their high rates of poverty and unemployment, with approximately 45% of female-headed households. Costa Rican arable land is already covered with consolidated crops like banana and coffee. Nevertheless, the country stands as a high-rated location for seed improvement and counter-season seed production (mainly cotton) due to its weather, accessibility and high number of trained agriculture professionals. Costa Rica's geographical location makes the country an attractive location for the cultivation of niche market export products. These activities contribute to diversify farmer's alternative options.





For further information regarding benefits


• Brief 55-2019: Executive Summary - Global Status of Commercialized Biotech/GM Crops in 2019. ISAAA (2020)

• Estadísticas de cultivos genéticamente modificados de uso agrícola en Costa Rica por cultivo, evento y área sembrada. Período: 1991 a enero 2019. Servicio Fitosanitario del Estado (2019)




 Regulation of GM crops

Brief description of the regulatory framework

In Costa Rica, the regulatory framework has allowed safe use of GMOs since 1991. Risk assessment is conducted by the authorities of the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock, who grant permits or authorizations based on the scientific and technical opinions and criteria issued by CTNBio (National Biosafety Commission) with the involvement of SENASA-Environment. This regulatory framework has allowed a large number of confined field trials and GM seed production activities to be conducted in the course of the years.


 GM animals


Does the country produce GM animals?


For the time being, the country does not commercially produce GM animals.


Brief description of the regulatory framework for GM animals

Within its general regulatory framework for Genetically Modified Organisms, Costa Rica allows for the possibility to carry out trials with and commercialize transgenic animals and SENASA is in charge of the decision related to biosafety in animal biotechnology. Yet, no applications have been made nor assessed for activities involving GM animals.


Are there local developments?


For the time being, there are no local developments of GM Animals in advanced stages.




 Multilateral Fora


Costa Rica is member/party of: