Shaping Argentina’s Biotech Future
Over the course of a day of unprecedented collaboration, Argentina’s biotech industry came together to discuss the challenges facing their industry in Argentina and the region at BioArgentina 2014, an event organized by the Argentinian Chamber of Biotechnology (CAB). Bringing together over 900 professionals across the industry, with perspectives from the scientific and entrepreneurial community, the event was a platform for debate regarding the future of Argentina in strategic areas of biotechnology.
At the start of the day the Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation Dr. Lino Barañao said “BioArgentina is a milestone that contributes to the development of biotechnology. This is a new production model with technology-based companies, where the value is in the ideas and creativity.” The highlights of the day included lectures from Dr. Cristina Garmendia, a former Minister of Science and Innovation of Spain and Dr. William Burnquist, director Breeding Canavieira Technology Center (CTC) in Brazil. In addition, Dr. Craig Venter, a pioneer in sequencing the human genome, gave a presentation via videoconference from San Diego, United States.
Hugo Sigman, president of the CAB, said that “the most significant aspect of BioArgentina is networking; 200 public research centers interested in meeting with companies and developing projects that can replace imports and generate value-added exports are registered at the event.” In the afternoon, these researchers participated in a series of interviews with CAB members, presenting their most innovative work and discussing potential partnerships.
Dr. Garmendia spoke about the importance of open dialogue between different players in the public and private sectors in the scientific and technological reform process that helped Spain to develop their biotechnology industry. “We have to think of a new way of working that includes cooperation, and must understand that to be competitive we must be innovative. Today more than ever, innovation must be open and dynamic to address major challenges such as climate change, water supply, food security and health,” said Dr. Garmendia.
For his part, Dr. William Burnquist, who established the program of genetic transformation of sugarcane in Brazil CTC, outlined advances in plant biotechnology. “The benefits of biotech crops include increased productivity and product quality, lower production costs, and reduced environmental impact. Today, 18 million farmers in 27 countries benefit from these technologies.”
Finally, Dr. Craig Venter, who is a leader in his field and one the most influential scientists of the century, noted that “with the sequencing of the genome, we generated a new language that in the long run will allow us to produce organs for transplants, and new vaccines, such as the first DNA-based vaccine in the world. You have to bet on young scientists who are not constrained by past conventions to break the mould, and use your imagination to seek benefits for all mankind.”
The CAB was founded with the aim of contributing to a public-private partnership in biotechnology policy, from global perspective that covers research and development, production, marketing and export of biotech products.
One of the main strategies of the CAB is cooperation with national and international organizations and institutions that proactively support the development and strengthening of biotechnology such as the National Council for Scientific and Technical Research (CONICET), the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation, the Ministry of Industry, the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, as well as relevant chambers of industry and foreign entities.
The member companies of CAB are Aceitera General Deheza, Amega Biotech, Arcor, Beta, Bioceres, Biogenesis-Bago, BioProfarma, BioSidus, Grupo Chemo, Don Mario Seeds, Elea, Gador, Garruchos, Indear, Molinos Río de la Plata, Ledesma , PharmADN, Rizobacter, Vicentín and Wiener Labs.
Article by Alexander Ackerman