Brazil opens food and farming lab at German research institute

By Barbara Axt
Europe Research – Brazil’s Agricultural Research Corporation Embrapa and Germany’s government have agreed to establish a food and farming laboratory in Germany.
A Brazilian researcher will lead a team of local scientists at the Labex laboratory, based at Germany’s Jülich Research Centre, near Aachen. Their first task will be to investigate plant phenotyping, including plant‐environment interactions and the adaptation of crops to climate change and sustainable use of resources in ecosystems.
Luciano Lourenço Nass, a knowledge‐exchange coordinator at Embrapa, says the Brazilian Labex coordinator will be a connection between researchers and institutions in both countries. “We want to develop other partnerships with Germany in strategic areas such as functional foods and nanotechnology,” he says.
Embrapa is the largest agricultural research organization in Brazil, with more than 8,000 employees. It already has labs in the United States, Korea, China, France and the UK. The Jülich lab will be a branch of Labex Europe, based in Montpellier in France.
As the host institution, the Jülich Research Centre will provide the infrastructure for the new lab whereas Embrapa offers the researchers and funding. “We also offer opportunities for researchers from partner institutions to come to Brazil and develop work that is mutually interesting,” says Nass. “The Labex is a two‐way project.” For Germany, the attractiveness in the partnership lies in accessing developments in Brazil’s agricultural science. Ulrich Schurr, director of the Jülich Institute for Plant Research, said that Brazil’s work on the production of food and feed crops, biofuels and bioenergy is already significantly advanced. “The country will play a key role in a future bioeconomy,” he said in an email.
The research done at Labex is intended to improve the sustainability of Germany’s and Brazil’s agriculture. Both partners said that, in the future, this kind of collaboration could be broadened out.
Germany’s agriculture minister Ilse Aigner and her Brazilian counterpart Mendes Ribeiro Filho signed an agreement on 20 January in Berlin. The collaboration arose from the German‐Brazilian Year of Science and Technology 2010‐11.

Source: Research Europe, February 9th, 2012
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