Last Thursday (December 10, 2009) the President of the Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation (Embrapa), Dr. Pedro Arraes Pereira and the Administrator of the Rural Development Administration (RDA), Dr. Jae-Soo Kim officially inaugurated Labex Korea, the Virtual Laboratory of Embrapa in Asia. Also present in the event was the Ambassador of Brazil in South Korea, Mr. Edmundo Sussumu Fujita, the First Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade of Korea, Mr. Chan-Sik Yoon, Directors of RDA Units and scientists from Korea and Brazil. Labex Korea, which is headquartered in Suwon, 40 km South of the capital Seoul, is the third phase of the Virtual Labs Abroad Program that Embrapa started in 1998 to foster its scientific and technological cooperation abroad.
The opening of the first Labex in Asia meets the Brazilian Government goal of expansion and consolidation of the international presence of Embrapa. The Labex partnership with the Rural Development Administration (RDA) emphasizes cooperation in the areas of engineering and automation, botany, animal sciences, genetic resources, advanced biology, bioenergy, agroecology and environmental sciences. The goals that will be jointly pursued by the two organizations are: to monitor trends in Science & Technology and opportunities of bilateral cooperation, to promote collaborative R&D projects, to facilitate exchange of scientists, to identify training opportunities and to promote technical meetings and scientific exchanges between the two countries. The first area to be implemented by Labex Korea is genetic resources and its interfaces with plant breeding and biotechnology. Dr. Mauricio Lopes will accumulate the functions of scientist and first coordinator of Labex Korea for the next two years.
One innovation in the process of implementation of the Labex Program in Asia is that the Rural Development Administration (RDA) has decided to open a Labex homolog in Brazil, called RDA-Abroad Virtual Laboratory (RAVL). Since March 2009 Dr. Boh-Suk Yang, an expert in animal reproduction, is developing the activities of RAVL in partnership with the Genetic Resources and Biotechnology Unit of Embrapa, in Brasilia.
Labex was first established in 1998 in the the United States, in partnership with the Agricultural Research Service – ARS of the US Department of Agriculture – USDA. Labex USA is headquartered in Washington, with teams working together with research centers of ARS across the country. In 2002 the program was started in Europe, in partnership with Agropolis, in Montpellier, France. In 2005 an extension was opened in the Netherlands, in partnership with the Wageningen University. In January 2010 it will open a new branch in England, with the Rothamsted Research in Harpenden, Hertfordshire.
Click here to learn more about the Labex Program.