MADE IN CUBA

FIDEL CASTRO'S MOST IDIOSYNCRATIC VENTURE PAYS OFF: HAVANA IS NOW A LEADING EXPORTER OF BIOTECH PRODUCTS

Gustavo De La Riva's lab boasts an imposing assortment of high-tech gear: automated machines for synthesizing DNA, centrifuges for swirling cell cultures, growth chambers for coddling delicate seedlings. There is even a particle gun that genetically transforms sugarcane embryos by peppering them with DNA-coated BBs. But what really impresses foreign visitors is the folding cot that occupies a corner of De la Riva's office. At the Centro de Ingenieria Genetica y Biotecnologia (CIGB) in Havana, Cuba, De la Riva explains, researchers strive to stay ahead of the competition by sleeping alongside their experiments.

Yes, Cuba--that impoverished island 90 miles and an...

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