“Never Again Supplier of Raw Material.” Vows Brazil’s Lula

Brazilian President, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva talks about biotechnology Brazilian President, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, signed a decree yesterday, February 8, outlining a development policy for the biotechnology industry in Brazil, which should make the country a world leader in biofuel.

In a speech to Brazilians but with an eye overseas, Lula said Brazil can show the world that planting fuel is the best way to get social justice while reducing the greenhouse effect. The Brazilian president said that he wishes to share with the other national the Brazilian way out of global warming."

In a more defiant and indignant mood he vowed that Brazil "will never again be a supplier of raw material to the global market." He went on to add that one his country's main priorities is to establish an alliance between biotechnology and energy derived from agriculture.

The Brazilian government believes that the country's biodiversity places Brazil in an advantageous position compared to other nations. Brazil's national program intends to make the country a global leader in biotechnology in 10 to 15 years.

According to the Brazilian Ministry of Development, Industry and Foreign Trade, there are currently 1,700 groups in the public, academic and private sectors working in the biotechnology sector in Brazil. The national program will manage and provide support to these activities, as well as facilitate corporate access to research results.

Already in 2007, according to information provided by the minister of Development, Luiz Fernando Furlan, US$ 479.5 million in public funds will be available for biotechnology research in the country. The money will be provided by the Brazilian Development Bank (BNDES) and by sector funds, which are linked to the ministries and consist of tax revenues.

The plan was devised through debates between the private and public sectors, and will receive support from five ministries, all of which are somehow related to the area: Health, Development, Science and Technology, Agriculture and Environment. The goal is to encourage biotechnological applications in five different fields: health, food security, animal health, industrial products and environmental quality.

A national committee will be established, including representatives of the five ministries and of the academic sector, to monitor the development of the program. Biotechnology should foster production, and consequently employment in the country, in addition to opening new doors to the foreign market.

In fact, Brazilian biotech research has already shown promising results. The minister cited as examples the work of the Amazon Biotechnology Center – CBA, which developed natural coloring products for food and cosmetics, and the work of a factory, in the northeastern Brazilian state of Bahia, which produces sterile flies designed to eradicate fruit flies; these sterile flies are now being exported.

Brazilian biotechnology also led to the creation of new strains of sugar cane and soy, capable of thriving both in the country's dry and more humid areas, not to mention ethanol production, another result of biotech. Brazil is currently the leading ethanol producer in the world.

The new program should contribute to lessen Brazilian imports of medications, and help the country become an exporter of certain medical products. "In imports of vaccines against rabies alone, Brazil spends US$ 38.8 million a year," said Furlan.

The Ministry of Health already provides support to several programs aimed at innovation in medication. One such program is turned to the manufacturing of pharmaceuticals using marine microalgae.

Another program specializes in developing medication to treat neglected diseases, such as malaria. This type of work, as well as biotech work in the agricultural and the industrial sectors, should get a boost from the new government plan.

Yet another branch of the program targets universities. "Brazil graduates 10,000 doctors each year. We are going to steer these graduates toward our priorities, so their background matches ongoing projects," Furlan said.

Foreign resources and participation in biotechnological development is also welcome, according to the consultant for biotechnology, pharmaceuticals and medication at the Brazilian Agency for Industrial Development (ABDI), Adriana Diaféria. Adriana explained that Brazil wants to show how advanced it is in the field, thus encouraging exchange with other countries.

The Brazilian Association of Biotechnology Companies (Abrabi) estimates the annual revenue of the biotechnology sector in the country to be between US$ 2.5 billion and US$ 4.3 billion. Of the 28,000 job positions created, 84% are in the micro and small businesses.

Social Justice

Below are the main stretches of President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva's address during the opening ceremony for the signing of the decree establishing a national biotechnology policy, and the creation of a committee for developing the sector.

Science and economy – "At the restless dawn of the 21st century, clear signs of emergency are knocking on our door. Even clearer is the realization that only the power of cooperation between democracy, science and economy will be capable of solving the social and environmental challenge facing us. Biotechnology should be regarded as a bridge connecting development and nature, leading us to the sustainable future we fight and yearn for."

Brazilian Biodiversity – "Brazil is home to 20% of all biodiversity in the world, and has huge forests, therefore our country is entitled to a privileged position in this new vector of development. The goal of our new national biotechnology policy is precisely to tap into this potential, so that 10 or 15 years from now our country ranks among the five largest global hubs for biotechnology research, services and products."

What will be done? – "We are going to produce medication and vaccines at lower costs. We will make biodegradable plastic. We will develop industrial enzymes to increase efficiency and decrease pollution. We will create more nutritious foods, and develop our own medications and cosmetics using biodiversity and environmental recovery techniques. Furthermore, we will aim for the future of biotechnology, investing in research DNA sequencing, neuroscience, stem cells, nanobiotechnology, biopharmaceuticals."

Brazilian agricultural energy – "Brazil is not and will never again be a supplier of raw material to the global market. The Growth Acceleration Program and the National Biotechnology Policy converge in another direction, as they set other priorities for Brazilian development in the 21st century. One of those priorities, of the highest importance, is the alliance between biotechnology and agricultural energy."

The planet – "We are capable of showing the world that planting fuel is the best way of harvesting social justice, at the same time contributing to reduce the greenhouse effect, which causes so much harm and dysfunction to our Planet. We want to share this way out of global warming with the world."

Anba – www.anba.com.br


  • Show Comments (7)

  • Ric

    The Ipanema is an ag plane. How much of it came from the Piper Pawnee I donÀ‚´t know. Not much, IÀ‚´d say, but all low wing ag planes tend to look alike. ItÀ‚´s powered by a piston, 0-540 Lycoming. There are projects in the works to convert the higher compression Lycomings to alchohol but the Ipanema is the only production airplane certified to run on Ethanol.

    Who designed the Ipanema I donÀ‚´t know. I was in the hangar at SJC when the first Bandeirantes were being developed and I think they were based on a Nord, except that the Nord was a high wing airplane, so in a sense the Bandeirante was a new design.

    The turboprop based on the Navajo was never in production in the states as far as I know, a Brazilian design, canÀ‚´t remember what they called it.

    As for this article, whatÀ‚´s wrong with exporting raw materials and how do you define that? Is lumber a manufactored product but logs are raw material? Does hulling rice make it a manufactured product? With some stuff you gain space and make it lighter by processing, but other stuff is less perishable before processing. Tons and tons of wood waste and container loads uncountable,with bales of metal scrap leave San Pedro each day for Asia, and come back later as manufactured goods.

  • Andy Murphy


    I forgot to ask you. Wasnt the Ipanema the “Brainchild” of Col.Osires da Silva? He was a bright guy like many of the FAB officers I had the pleaure of meeting.I wonder if Col.Osires is still around Brazil or opted to become a monk and go to Tibet. One of the greatest Brazilians, I have ever known. I hope he still flies “Brasilia”,made by EMBRAER. A nice aircraft.

  • Andy Murphy


    Is Ipanema a Turbo Prop plane and still being manufactured?

  • Ric

    The problem right now with shipping finished goods is the exchange rate. CanÀ‚´t pay the help, make an item and get enough Reais back to make it worth it.

    As far as I know the original Corcel was the first totally Brazilian designed car, that is that was sold in large numbers. Ford had bought Willys which in turn had bought Renault. The engine in the first Corcel and initially in the Corcel II was developed from the Renault Gordini engine. I still have one. Engine, not car.

    DonÀ‚´t know whether VW in Germany developed the Flex or not, take your work for it, but I do know that the very first certified airplane burning pure enthanol is an Embraer product, think it is called the Ipanema, ag plane, with a 0-540 Lyc. I saw an alcohol burning plane at Oshkosh in the 80À‚´s but it was not certified, was experimental category.

  • Andy Murphy

    To: Ch.C

    One of the most interesting posts you have ever made,in this forum. You are asking the same questions that my Brazilian family and friends are doing. I dont know if you visited Brazil recently. Just read the cartons of goods sold in the stores. The famous Brazilian (and Multinational) brands sell nice products in well decorated shopping malls. But all these products are made in PRC.You know in U.S, it is difficult to find products made in U.S.A. The same thing applies to Canada. Brazil is following suit. I dont think that the interest of the politicos is to create jobs in the Industries,but to continue selling raw material to the Chinese.The last sentence of my post sums it all. As for creating jobs for the professionals you mentioned in the first paragraph, I must admit that you are absolutely correct. I feel sorry for the young Brazilian professionals who cant find jobs because of the Chinese competition and I wonder if they realize that the Industrial base in Brazil is being destroyed.All of them are being turned into Salespersons of the Chinese made goods.

    As I always say, it is a serious problem in Brazil and the Brazilians are the only ones who could solve it. I think both of us pointed out the obvious,but it is up to them to come out with a solution.

  • ch.c.

    To Andy
    But why is Brazil selling iron pellets and iron ore to China and everywhere ? Why not add value and then exports finished goods and not raw materials ? This would create millions of jobs ! New productions need not only workers but also engineers, production managers, accountants, administrative jobs,constructions, investments etc etc !
    Plus all the indirect jobs also created by the new enterprises jobs !
    Such as new and better housing, food markets, restaurants, sports activities, new roads, cinemas, etc etc etc themselves creating other new indirect jobs.

    Same for grains if those grains feed animals, instead of shipping the grains.

    Same for coffee that is mostly sold in green beans, not roasted !
    But since most premium coffee are made of different beans, you should also import some
    other varieties to do the *Brazilians” mixes. And I am afraid that talking of importing coffee in Brazil would not be well perceived but then the USA and EU will continue their own “mixtures” to please their tastes.

    On ethanol in Brazil, sorry but I am not so sure ! Simply because 40 % of the 400 millions tons of sugarcane is MANUALLY harvested, creating millions of poorly paid workers….as everyone knows…but hide.

    In technology, sorry too, but the flex engine has been developed by VW not by Brazilians contrary to the fairy tales they are telling the world !

  • Andy Murphy

    Years ago (1980), the Ford Motors of Brazil introduced in Brazil, a model called Corcel II whose fuel was Ethnol,derived out of Sugar Cane.The most fuel effecient model ,compared to the ones manufactured by GM and VW. Used to give 12 KM/Litre on the highway. I had the pleasure of driving that car,a real work horse of the 80À‚´s. It was the result of the joint efforts of the Brazilian and U.S. engineers.

    It is a pity that the Brazilian Government sat on its butt for such a long time to revive the bio fuel technology. The Brazilians could have become leaders in this field 20 years ago. Unfortunately Brazilian Government does not recognize the talents of their Engineers,Doctors and other bright professionals. The Brazilians seem to place more faith on their elected politicians than themselves!

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