By Leonardo Gottems, Reporter for AgroPages
This month, Celso Luiz Moretti was appointed as the president of the Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation (Embrapa) by the minister of Agriculture, Livestock and Supply, Tereza Cristina.
According to the researcher, Embrapa will continue to maintain a “robust agenda” in 2020, and three fronts will have priority.
The first of these is the research on Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats (CRISPR), or simply “genomic editing”, a technique which allows, through the so-called genetic shears, the DNA of plants, animals and microorganisms to be edited.
According to Moretti, one of the goals of the researchers at Embrapa will be to make Brazilian soy more adaptable to drought. Another goal announced by the new president of the company is to make the Brazilian oilseed more resistant to nematodes - a problem that has been growing exponentially among the country's crops and causing losses of R$35 billion per year.
“I believe this technology will replace GMOs. This will impact the issue of food barriers that today, for example, cannot reach Europe because of transgenics,” said Moretti. He added that other research with CRISPR is aimed at reducing the problem of bean browning caused by exposure to light, high temperature and humidity during storage.
The new president of Embrapa also promises to invest in the beginning of the certification and commercialization process of products with the concept brand, Carbon Neutral Meat. The goal is to neutralize the gases that the herd produces during the breeding, rearing and fattening cycle, with a strong focus on breeding via ILPF (Forest Livestock Integration).
The third priority of the new management will be investment in digital agriculture. “We will use more drones, more sensors, more internet of things, so that Brazilian agriculture can move faster,” explained Moretti. Currently in Brazil, only 65% of the territory is connected with broadband internet.
Agronomist Moretti has been a researcher at Embrapa since 1994, when he was hired to work at Embrapa Vegetables Food Science and Technology Laboratory, which he headed from August 2008 to March 2013. He also served at the headquarters as the head of the then Department of Research and Development from April 2013 to July 2017, and then as R&D Director, from July 2017, a position he was accumulating as interim president.