Monthly Archives: March 2010

International Conference on Food and Agriculture Applications of Nanotechnologies

The International Conference on Food and Agriculture Applications of Nanotechnologies will be held in São Pedro, SP, Brazil from June 20 to 25, 2010.   New and emerging applications of nanotechnologies in food and agriculture and issues related to their use will be the focus of this Conference. 

In addition to exploring relevant scientific and technological advances, the Conference will also seek to highlight areas of research with the greatest potential to benefit society.

The overall objectives of the Conference are to:

  • Provide a vehicle for debate among all stakeholders on priority areas for development of nanotechnologies relevant to food and agriculture;
  • Identify priority areas of research and development that are considered to have the greatest potential to contribute to the achievement of the Millenium Development Goals;
  • Consider the social/ethical implications of Nanotechnologies applied in food, agriculture and sectors;
  • Consider the legal and business issues which influence the transition from research to commercialization of nanotechnologies;
  • Promote collaborative research among countries on issues of common interest;
  • Promote a harmonized approach toward the assessment and management of potential human health and environmental risks that may be associated with the use of nanotechnologies in the areas of food, agriculture, health and other sectors.

Important Deadlines

Paper Submission: March 26, 2010

Acceptance notification: April 23, 2010

Early registration: March 26, 2010

See more information here.

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Quotes Inspiring Cooperation

It is amazing what can be accomplished when nobody cares about who gets the credit.”

By Robert Yates

A Brazilian Strategy to Support Agricultural Development in Africa

Embrapa’s Regional Office for Africa is located in Accra, Gana.

Brazil has been broadening its dialogue with Africa, in support to the continent´s growing efforts to build capacity for autonomous development.  Technical cooperation is a key priority in this process, which focuses on transfer of skills, capacity building and support to institutional building and strengthening.  

Agricultural innovation is one of the cornerstones of the Brazilian cooperation activities with Africa and the Brazilian Agricultural Research Organization, Embrapa, is the leading organization in the process.  Embrapa´s Africa office was established in the city of Accra, in Ghana, in 2006, and opened a new phase in the Organization’s tradition of knowledge and technology transfer to the African continent.  

The main purpose of Embrapa is sharing scientific and technological knowledge relevant to African countries, thus contributing to social and economic development and to food security across the region. The activities are concentrated in technology transfer, emphasizing the specific demands of different partner countries for support in tropical agricultural development. Also, Embrapa Africa provides technical assistance and opportunities for training and development of human resources.  

The work platform of Embrapa Africa covers the areas of agroenergy, tropical fruit production, cassava and vegetables (production and processing), fruits and vegetables, post-harvest, beef/milk production and forests.  Experts dedicated to planning and managing agricultural projects are working together with African partners to articulate the interests of African producers, governments, rural development organizations and technology suppliers to organize production chains in different parts of the continent.  

Click here for more information on Embrapa Africa, or contact embrapa DOT africa AT embrapa DOT br.

Quotes Inspiring Cooperation

“The era of the rugged individual is giving way to the era of the team player. Everyone is needed, but no one is necessary.”

Bruce Coslet, Coach, Bengals

‘A Model Laboratory Without Walls: the Brazilian Labex’

Agropolis International, an association that brings together many agricultural universities and research centers in Montpellier, France, has just published a new issue of its series “Les dossiers d’Agropolis International” describing the achievements of Labex-Europe, a laboratory without walls set up in Montpellier by Embrapa, the Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation. 

Since 2002, Agropolis International has been host to Labex and a facilitator for Embrapa in its collaboration with local partners (CIRAD, INRA, IRD, …) and other organizations in Europe. According to Dr. Elisio Contini, first coordinator of Labex Europe and current Head of International Cooperation of Embrapa, “Labex Europe institutionalizes a long-term scientific and technical cooperation between Embrapa and Agropolis International in Montpellier, with the participation of several European centers of excellence in France, the Netherlands and England.”

Each issue of “Les dossiers d’Agropolis International” series is dedicated to a broad scientific theme; its objective is to provide a synthetic overview of the skills and the potentiality available in the Agropolis community, thus facilitating contacts for the development of scientific and technical exchange and cooperation.  You can read and download the dossier dedicated to Labex Europe from here.

Embrapa – Current and Future Challenges in Bioenergy Development and Use in Brazil

The soon-to-be-inaugurated facilities of Embrapa Agroenergy, in Brasilia, Brazil.

Brazil is the acknowledged world leader in the generation and implementation of modern,tropical agricultural technology. A series of advantages, such as climate, advanced innovation capabilities and the availability of land to energy farming, without having to reduce food-crop area or impose environmental impact beyond what is socially acceptable, have enabled Brazil to become a world leader in green energy.

A striking example of the country success in this area is the ethanol production chain. The production and use of ethanol from sugarcane in Brazil is a global model for bioenergy production, distribution, and use, and is recognized as one of the most efficient in the world. Like ethanol, biodiesel is also receiving increased attention in Brazil, with development of new source materials, production and industrial technologies. Investment in research and innovation is one of the pillars of sustainable production and rational use of renewable sources of energy in Brazil.

Embrapa Agroenergy is a leading research unit of the the Brazilian Agricultural Research Organization, dedicated to development of technological innovations applied to agroenergy production chains. In a recently published interview, the Head of Embrapa Agroenergy, Dr. Frederico Machado Ozanan Duraes presented a comprehensive overview of the challenges and opportunities for the agroenergy industry in Brazil and analyzed the role of Embrapa in this field of innovation.

The full interview of Dr. Duraes to Journalist Evandro Bittencourt, from the Journal of Bioenergy, can be accessed here (in Portuguese).

Excerpts with some highlights of the interview are presented below.  For more information, please contact labexDOTkoreaATymailDOTcom.

Continue reading

Global Challenges for Agricultural Biotechnology

Sustainable development is one of the most challenging goals for mankind, and a vital challenge for agricultural production around the world. Over millennia agriculture has evolved from extractive activities and subsistence production to an intensive agroindustry based on modern technologies and, in many instances, disorderly territory occupation and non sustainable utilization of environmental resources.  The tendency is for the pressure of agricultural systems over the environment to intensify in the future, due to the growing world demand for food, fiber, feed and renewable energy.  And in many parts of the world the pressure for further growth and expansion of agricultural production is incompatible with the time and effort needed to steer it toward more sustainable models. Also, climate change will impose additional stresses to many delicately balanced agro-ecosystems, especially in tropical areas, where significant intensification of biotic and abiotic stresses is expected in the next decades.  It threatens to reverse the gains made in the past and to impose severe limitations on future gains the research community could achieve, using conventional methods and tools.  Therefore, it is not reasonable to expect that technological progress based on conventional innovation strategies will allow the world to take important leaps toward increasingly safer and sustainable agricultural production systems in a short period of time.

Creative strategies to use advanced technologies, coupled to conventional approaches, are much needed as means to addressing current and emerging problems and opportunities for agriculture.  The genomics revolution of the past decade has dramatically improved our understanding of the genetic makeup of many agriculturally important species. Together with the achievements represented by complete genomic sequences, high-throughput and parallel approaches are available for the analysis of transcripts, proteins, pathways and, more importantly, to help extract useful variability from the wealth of resources stored in our germplasm banks and in untapped resources of biodiversity.  New genomic technologies coupled to breeding approaches bring opportunities to reduce the impacts of biotic and abiotic stresses on crop productivity and to improve safety, nutritional quality and functionality of agricultural products.  Also, new tools to uncover and to handle genetic variability provide the opportunity to channel into the breeding process many new species with underdeveloped genetics.  There is no better time to adapt and adopt a new paradigm of gene discovery to tailor biological processes towards overcoming the barriers that will limit agricultural production in a world pressed by increasing environmental challenges.

Also, the sophisticated technical basis and the general nature of modern biotechnology are enabling the development of a wide range of products and processes, creating a new industry and influencing the direction of the global economy. The food, pharmaceutical, chemical, health, energy and information industries are becoming bundled in ways never imagined. The tremendous advances in the life sciences are making the boundaries between traditionally distinct businesses increasingly fuzzy, as disciplinary integration and convergence generate what promises to be one of the largest industries of the future – the bio-industry.  Production of renewable energy, raw materials and bioactive molecules for various industries promise to extend the range of usefulness of biological systems, creating opportunities to place agriculture among the most advanced industries of the world.

In this scenario, policy oriented research will have to receive increasing attention, as agricultural innovation interfaces with rapid developing, cutting-edge sciences.  It is growing the understanding that policies, laws and regulations will be key factors underlying the development of agriculture and bio-industries in the future.  Issues related to access and use of advanced technological tools and processes, as well as of biological resources, have acquired political, social, economic and legal dimensions.  Therefore, innovation programs that depend on access and use of such components will increasingly depend on better understanding of policy and legal issues related to their accessibility and mobility, taking into account developments in both, international and national contexts.

Mauricio Lopes