BRAZIL TO DEVELOP BIOTECH EXPORTS

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The Brazilian health minister has issued an upbeat assessment of Brazil's potential in biotech exports. Following a high-level government meeting, the country's export agency is to prioritise the sector, which -- despite favourable legislation -- is understood to be in its early stages in Brazil.

Last year, the country imported biotech products worth US$332mn, including vaccines, blood products and antibiotics originating from biotech. Key treatments included measles and flu vaccines, human growth factor, insulin and botulin derivatives.

Brazil passed a so-called Biosecurity Law in 2004, offering liberal conditions for biotech R&D and production. However, the key utility of biotech to Brazilian industry will be the country's huge agricultural sector, which already uses a number of sophisticated, foreign-made inputs of biological origin. Nevertheless, it remains to be seen whether Brazil will succeed in mobilising local expertise and industry as the government's strategy envisages.