Brazil-China Forum highlights biotechnology to ensure sustainability

In Brazil, agricultural biotechnology has played a crucial role in the last 40 years in increasing production, especially through productivity gains, which were greater than the expansion of cultivated areas

25.11.2021 | 14:01 (UTC -3)
Embrapa

President Celso Moretti has been fulfilling an intense international agenda in the months of October and November. This week, the highlight was Embrapa's presence at the Brazil-China Forum, which discussed the role of biotechnology in environmental sustainability. Moretti also participated in The Global New Economy Forum and the XIX Encuentro del Sistema de los INIA (National Institute of Agricultural Research).

The 23st Brazil-China Forum – Agriculture, Biotechnology and Sustainability, brought together, this Tuesday, November XNUMX, authorities and experts from Brazil and China. The president of Embrapa, Celso Moretti, participated in the panel on Agricultural Biotechnology and Environmental, Social and Economic Sustainability Gains. He highlighted the important advances in biotechnology in Brazil, with the contributions of Embrapa that allowed Brazil to become a major producer and exporter of food.

In Brazil, agricultural biotechnology has played a crucial role in the last 40 years in increasing production, especially through productivity gains, which were much greater than the expansion of cultivated areas. “This process, led by Embrapa, had great relevance in the development of plant varieties adapted to tropical soil and climate conditions, which changed the face of Brazilian agriculture, providing intense productivity. And this is a key issue, even more so now, when sustainability becomes the center of the international political agenda. Technological advances have become fundamental”, said the Brazilian ambassador in Beijing, Celso de Tarso Pereira.

He cited Embrapa's research projects, such as Carne-Carbono-Neutro, which results in a neutral carbon footprint, and low-carbon soy. “Two very important projects combined with modern trends in the world market”. Tarso also spoke about the recent approval by Brazilian and Chilean authorities of a food supplement for dairy cows that helps to decompose methane, reducing emissions and increasing productivity.

Moretti reaffirmed the importance of biotechnology for the decarbonization of agriculture. In the last 50 years, there have been three major waves supported by science, innovation, technology, especially biotechnology, that marked the Brazilian agricultural revolution.

The first of them, according to the Embrapa manager, was the wave of expansion, with the introduction of soybeans in Brazil, coming from China, which arrived in the south of Brazil and then, with genetic improvement, was tropicalized to several Brazilian regions. The second wave occurred with the increase in competitiveness of the different chains. And finally, the third wave in which sustainability supported by science and innovation comes.

degraded pastures

Moretti used data obtained by the Federal University of Goiás to present Forum participants with information about degraded pastures in Brazil: there are 90 million hectares of pastures with some degree of degradation that could be converted into agricultural areas, especially located in the Northeast, and add to the current 70 million hectares that the country currently uses for first and second harvest agricultural production.

“Brazil can double food production by converting degraded pastures, which are already consolidated areas, without touching a tree in the Amazon,” he said. He also presented data on cultivated areas in the world. Denmark uses 77% of its territory for agriculture, the United Kingdom, 64%, China 18% and Brazil just 7,6%. “Today we produce food to feed almost 900 million people on Earth, with 7,6% of the territory”, emphasized the president.

“Public research, especially biotechnology, plays an important role in Brazil. It helped transform acidic soils into fertile ones, tropicalize animals and plants, and promote genetic improvement. And finally, the sustainable platform with Biological Nitrogen Fixation, the direct planting system, ILPF, waste treatment, among others”, explained Moretti. “We have no doubt that there will be an increasing intensification of this nexus between sustainability and agricultural, economic and social development. ESG will be strongly present”, he concluded.

The event was opened with the participation of the Chinese ambassador to Brazil, Yang Wanming, the secretary of Innovation, Sustainable Development and Irrigation of the Ministry of Agriculture, Fernando Camargo, the charge d'affaires of the Brazilian Embassy in Beijing, Celso by Tarso Pereira, and the president of the Brazil-China Business Council (CEBC), ambassador Luiz Augusto de Castro Neves.

The discussions were held in two panels: "Agricultural Biotechnology and Gains in Environmental, Social and Economic Sustainability" and "Paths for a Bilateral Agenda for Cooperation in Agricultural Biotechnology".

International panels discuss the sustainable evolution of Brazilian agriculture

Decarbonization and the role of Brazilian agricultural research in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and climate change were the main topics addressed by the president of Embrapa, Celso Moretti, in three international events held on the 22nd and 23rd of November, with the presence of experts and representatives from government and research institutions from various countries. 

In the panels, Moretti spoke about the effort that has been made towards competitive and sustainable food production. “Brazil has problems, such as illegal deforestation that needs to be faced firmly,” he said. “But, on the other hand, we have recognition that agricultural science is a global reference, due to the technological solutions that have been developed and delivered to Brazilian society for almost five decades.”

At The Global New Economy Forum, on the 22nd, Moretti drew attention to Embrapa's participation in the 26th conference of the parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP 26), when he had the opportunity to present advances of low-carbon agriculture, such as meat, already available on the market, milk, soybeans, and in the future coffee, cotton, leather and carbon neutral calves.

“Brazil has gone from words to action and has done its part in the context of future scenarios”, he commented, referring to technologies such as crop-livestock-forest integration systems and biological nitrogen fixation, and public policies, such as ABC plan, for low-carbon agriculture.

With the participation of representatives from more than 30 countries virtually, The Global New Economy had 14 panels, including actions for sustainable economic development, smart cities and capital markets, with the aim of discussing the new post-pandemic economy, with focus on sustainability, renewable energy and global decentralized production of medicines and vaccines.

Just this week, President Celso Moretti participated in the XIX Encuentro del Sistema de los INIA (National Institute of Agricultural Research), during which he addressed the state of the art on agricultural soils and carbon sequestration in Brazil. “The trajectory of national agricultural research, which began almost five decades ago, thanks to investment in science, today includes a sequence of advances, among the most recent and important being the mapping of the organic carbon stock in the country's soils”, he commented.

According to him, the research represents one of the most important contributions to sustainable development, because it offers information related to soil types, as well as the profile of each one and agricultural indications. “We presented this study at COP 26 and the impact was significant mainly because of what it represents not only for sustainability, but for the fulfillment of the goals set by Brazil for the coming years”, he stated.

Find out more about the Brazil-China Forum by visiting https://www.cebc.org.br/.

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