Brazil and China defend greater cooperation in biotechnology

At an event organized by CEBC, representatives from China said that the use of transgenic products is expanding in the Asian country

24.11.2021 | 14:22 (UTC -3)
Daniel Popov

Brazil and China must intensify dialogue and cooperation in the area of ​​biotechnology, both in the area of ​​research and in relation to the process of approving innovations, argued representatives of the governments of both countries at the "1st Brazil-China Forum on Biotechnology, Agriculture and Sustainability", organized by the Brazil-China Business Council (CEBC) and sponsored by Bayer. The president of Embrapa, Celso Moretti, proposed an increase in the number of Brazilian researchers in China, while the Chinese ambassador to Brazil, Yang Wanming, suggested the intensification of bilateral cooperation in the development and industrialization of seeds, which would require joint research, transfer technology and human resources training.

Biotechnology was presented as an essential tool for sustainable agriculture, as it allows the expansion of production without a proportional increase in the use of resources. In particular, it reduces the need for planted area and the use of machinery and pesticides and encourages direct planting, reducing carbon emissions. Moretti noted that in five decades, Brazil expanded soybean production by 509%, but only expanded the planted area by 100%. The president of the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences and the National Biosafety Committee of China, Wu Kongming, said that biotechnology is generating a "revolution" in Chinese agriculture, with applications in cotton, corn, soybeans and canola crops. "Biotechnology is an important instrument for sustainable development."

Wu defended the creation of "joint biotechnological innovation platforms" between Brazil and China, which connect scientists and researchers from both countries. These spaces would be used to exchange information, develop products and discuss technology transfer. The president of China's National Biosafety Committee was also open to "improving" the Chinese process for approving biotechnological innovations, which could accelerate the green light for products adopted in Brazil. The lack of synchrony between the two countries in this process often delays the adoption of innovations in Brazil, which has its largest market for exporting agricultural products in China.

The charge d'affaires of the Brazilian Embassy in Beijing, Celso de Tarso Pereira, highlighted the need for Brazil to be aware of increasingly strict international standards in environmental matters, remembering that the European Union has just approved legislation that restricts the import of products linked to deforestation. The diplomat noted that biotechnology can contribute to the process of reducing emissions from the agricultural sector. According to him, an example of this is a food supplement recently approved in Brazil that reduces methane emissions from cattle herds - one of the main sources of greenhouse gas emissions in Brazil.

Biotechnologies that increase the tolerance of crops to water scarcity are the new frontier of agricultural biotechnology, said the president of the National Technical Commission for Biosafety (CNTBio), Paulo Barroso, when speaking about GMOs and gene editing. "We are no longer at the moment to discuss whether GMOs are safe or not. The example of Brazil, the United States and the widespread global consumption show that they are safe", highlighted Barroso, who predicted the expansion of technologies.

The use of biologically-based active ingredients to control pests and diseases was defended by the deputy secretary of Innovation, Sustainable Development and Irrigation of the Ministry of Agriculture, Cléber Soares, who also proposed the sustainable economic exploitation of genetic resources. "Brazil holds around 20% of the planet's diversity and when we look at this in terms of opportunity, the capacity to form genetic resources within a logic of conservation to innovate is unimaginable. It is possible for us to add more value in a sustainable way. "

Professor at the Federal University of Viçosa, Aluízio Borém mentioned cooperation in the academic sector and said that the institution he is part of discusses the matter with the University of Nanjing, in China. Ma Shuping, vice-president of the China Seed Association, stated that the trend in China is to expand the use of GMOs and assessed that there is a "wide range of sectors" for bilateral cooperation. Fernando Camargo, Secretary of Innovation, Sustainable Development and Irrigation at the Ministry of Agriculture, Fernando Camargo, noted that Brazil can "export sustainability" not only by adopting low-carbon management practices, but also by expanding clean energy sources. "Between 2019 and 2020, Brazil increased its installed solar energy power by more than 70%, the growth potential is unprecedented. We can contribute to the diversification and sustainability of the global energy matrix."

LS Tractor February