Brazilian presence at the 2010 World Oriental Medicine Bio-Expo in South Korea

The Brazilian Embassy in Seoul supports the participation of Embrapa and Laboratorio Tiaraju in the 2010 World Oriental Medicine-Bio Expo, in South Korea.

The 2010 World Oriental Medicine Bio Expo is being held from September 16 to October 16  in the city of Jecheon, South Korea.  This large international event is comprised of 13 exhibition halls, covering a wide range of topics and practices in oriental medicine, with emphasis on the theme ‘Rediscovery of Oriental Medicine: Scientific Movement, Industrialization and Globalization of Oriental Medicine.’

Visitors will learn about traditional medicine parctices and hundreds of different kinds of medical herbs found in Korea and many invited countries, including China, Brazil, India, Peru, Argentina and others, that have organized their displays for the one month event.  In addition to the main exhibitions, performances will be held at an outdoor theater.  A brochure with more details about the Expo can be found here.

Brazilian presence. The Brazilian Embassy in Seoul has organized, together with Embrapa Labex Korea and Laboratorio Tiaraju the Brazilian exhibit.  Tiaraju is a private company dedicated to production of herbal medicines, nutraceuticals and dietary supplements from the Brazilian biodiversity.

Embrapa is displaying its research on medicinal plants, which involves collection, characterization and conservation genetic resources in all six Brazilian biomes (Amazonia, Caatinga, Cerrado, Pantanal, Atlantic Forest and Pampas).  Dr. Arailde Fontes Urben and Dr. Roberto Fontes Vieira, researchers from Embrapa Genetic Resources and Biotechnology, in Brasilia, will be at the Expo, discussing their work and possibilities of collaboration with organizations from Korea and other participating countries.  Read here more information published at Embrapa´s homepage.

Brazilian Traditional Medicine. Endowed with valuable natural capital and cultural wealth, Brazil houses a significant portion of the planet’s biodiversity, water resources, and environmental services.  Two thirds of the world´s biodiversity is found in tropical areas, being 37% of it located in tropical America.

A substantial portion of such diversity is found in Brazil, which houses about 60,000 species of plants, of which 30,000 are higher plants.  The Amazonian forests, wetlands and savannas alone have at least 10 000 plant species that are active carriers of medical, cosmetic and biological control agents.

Besides the rich natural capital represented in its biodiversity, Brazil holds great cultural and ethnic diversity that had strong influence on its society. Also, colonization brought to the country many plant and animal species used by Europeans and Africans, which added to many species used by indigenous peoples, resulting in a considerable accumulation of knowledge, which have been passed on from generation to generation.

This diversity has provided the basis, over centuries, for development of a rich and diverse Traditional Medicine in Brazil.  It includes various practices, beliefs and knowledge based on plants, animals and mineral medicines that led to a great diversity of therapies directed to maintaining well-being and to treating and preventing diseases.

Among the components of biodiversity, plants are very important raw material for the manufacture of herbal and other medicines in Brazil. Besides their use as substrates for the fabrication of conventional medicines, plants are also widely used as sources for traditional home remedies.  Despite the country´s great diversity of plant life, only 8% of the Brazilian species have been evaluated for bioactive compounds and no more than 1,100 species have been assessed for their medicinal properties.

The potential use of medicinal plants in Brazil is, therefore, far from exhausted, and a wealth of new knowledge waits to be uncovered from the country´s rich natural assets.  Advances in this area have the potential to promote positive impacts to public health and socioeconomic development, besides benefits to sustainable use of natural resources and environmental conservation.

Towards this end, the Brazilian Government approved the National Policy on Medicinal Plants and Herbal Products, approved by the Decree No. 5813 of 22 June 2006.  It establishes guidelines and priorities for ensuring access to safe and rational use of medicinal plants and herbal medicines in Brazil.  It also supports the development of technologies and innovations for the sustainable use of the Brazilian biodiversity, while helping promote the health and the well being of the Brazilian people.

Serious efforts to collect and to preserve the genetic variability of medicinal plants have been developed in Brazil. Embrapa, in collaboration with other research centers and several universities, has a program to establish germplasm banks for medicinal and aromatic species.

Conservation of threatened germplasm includes seed banks, field preservation, tissue culture and cryopreservation. In an ex situ procedure, the germplasm is collected from fields, markets, small farms, and other sites, in form of seeds, cuttings, underground systems, and sprouts.

The collected samples represent the original population with passport data and herbarium vouchers.  This resource has been valuable to allow ethno-botanical studies, germplasm characterization and preservation and promotion of its sustainable utilization.

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