Embrapa starts activities in South Korea

I transcribe below an article written by Irene Lobo,  journalist of Embrapa Genetic Resources and Biotechnology,  to announce the opening of Labex Korea.  It has been published in the web site of Embrapa in May 19, 2009.


The Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation (Embrapa) starts the year 2009, in the international arena, with an important achievement: the exchange of representations with The Republic of Korea and the establishment of the first Virtual Laboratory of Embrapa in Asia.

Last February, the scientist in animal reproduction from the Rural Development Administration (RDA) of South Korea, Dr. Boh Suk Yang, arrived in Brazil to install the South Korea Virtual Laboratory Abroad (RaVL) in Embrapa, Brasilia. Similarly, beginning in September 2009 Embrapa will start operations of Labex Korea. The laboratory will be installed in the city of Suwon, 40 km south of the capital Seoul.  The physical facilities will be provided by RDA, Embrapa´s partner in South Korea.

Initially, two researchers will be selected to serve in Labex Korea, respectively in the fields and genetic resources and animal health.  On May 7th, the name of the senior researcher Maurício Antônio Lopes, from Embrapa Genetic Resources and Biotechnology, has been approved and ratified by the Embrapa to assume the post of researcher in the area of genetic resources in Labex Korea.  He will occupy this position for a minimum period of two years. The researcher in the area of animal health has not yet been chosen.

According to Mauricio, South Korea has experienced extraordinary growth over the last four decades and the decision to extend the Labex Program to that country will provide great opportunities to increase interaction and cooperation between Brazil and Asia in agricultural research.

“Asian is the world’s largest continent, but because of the size of its population and physical factors limiting production, it is dependent on countries that are good food suppliers. Brazil is one of those countries and might one day become the largest agricultural breadbasket of the world” says the researcher.

Regarding the choice of the genetic resources thematic area in the implementation of Labex Korea, Mauricio believes that the nascent bio-economy, the anticipation of risks and challenges associated with global climate change and the push for development of more sustainable production systems point to the need to streamline the processes of enrichment, conservation, value addition and use of plant, animal and microbial genetic resources.

“Traits rarely considered in the context of breeding programs, such as those related to environmental quality (environmental services, dynamics of carbon and others) and the evolving of a new bio-based industry – in the confluence of food, pharmaceutical, chemical, health and energy production – should arouse more and more interest in genetic resources research”, he said.

Memorandum of Understanding

Talks regarding the opening of the Embrapa office in Asia began in 2005, when Brazil and Korea signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for cooperation between the two nations. Two years later, in 2007, a delegation of RDA visited Embrapa, and in November 2008 the institutions signed an MOU for the implementation of the Virtual Laboratory of Embrapa (Labex Korea) in South Korea and the RDA Virtual Laboratory Abroad (RaVL) in Brazil.

According to Mauricio, the Korean partners have interest in collaborating in the areas of conservation and use of genetic resources as well as in biotechnology, with emphasis on genomics and bioinformatics. As for Brazil, according to the researcher, we can learn much from Korea, a country which, he said, based its growth in an economy geared towards innovation and knowledge.

“The objectivity of public and private programs, the pragmatic use of science and technology for development, the advancement of communications and information technologies and the great success of Korean organizations at the frontier of knowledge and innovation will make Labex Korea and extremely challenging experience, to which Embrapa will have to devote substantial effort.”

Researcher has extensive international experience

Dr. Maurício Lopes has a degree in Agronomy from the Federal University of Viçosa – UFV (1983), in Brazil.  He has a Masters Degree in Genetics from the University of Purdue, USA (1989) and a Ph.D. in Plant Molecular Biology, from the University of Arizona, USA (1993).

Member of the scientific staff of Embrapa since 1989, he has been corn breeder, leader of the maize breeding program and Deputy Head of R & D for Embrapa Maize and Sorghum. From 2000 to 2003 served as head of the Department of Research and Development of Embrapa in Brasilia, where he led the process of design and implementation of the current system of R & D management of Embrapa (SEG).

He joined the Embrapa Genetic Resources and Biotechnology in 2003, to work as a researcher in genetic resources and pre-breeding.  In that research Unit he managed the Genetic Resources Division (2003-2004) and served as Deputy Head of R & D (2004 to 2007).

Dr. Lopes has international experience in connection with the planning and monitoring of Labex USA and Labex France, the organization and launching of the Global Partnership Initiative for Plant Breeding Capacity Building (GIPB) with the United Nations Organization for Food and Agriculture (FAO), the organization of the Challenge Programs Water and Food and Generation of the CGIAR, the process of implementation of the international organization Crops for the Future, dedicated to the promotion of underutilized plant genetic resources, among others.

He also participated in several international missions of the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Food Supply (MAPA) and the Ministry of Science and Technology (MCT). Currently he is a member of the Scientific Council of the Agropolis Foundation, based in Montpellier, France; technical advisor of the Center for Strategic Studies and Management (CGEE/MCT), International Liaison Officer of Embrapa Genetic Resources and Biotechnology, and ad hoc consultant for scientific journals and development agencies nationally and internationally.

Irene Lobo (MTb 4946/DF)
Embrapa Genetic Resources and Biotechnology


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