After successfully launching in the United States in 2016, The Good Food Institute recognized that creating a healthy, sustainable, and just food system is a global mission. The next year, GFI invited me to become managing director of GFI-Brazil.
Since then, GFI-Brazil has engaged in many high-impact projects, including supporting the first startups in the alternative protein area, consulting with the world’s largest meat manufacturers, engaging and educating traditional meat scientists, and working closely with the government to support the country’s burgeoning plant-based and cultivated meat markets.
Today, plant-based proteins are one of Brazil’s most exciting markets, having captured the attention of big food and meat companies, as well as top investors and entrepreneurs.
To recognize and support our work, GFI’s executive director Bruce Friedrich recently took his first trip to Brazil. His adventure began in the capital, Brasília, where he and I spoke at the 16th National Week of Science and Technology, an annual event promoted by Brazil’s Ministry of Science, Technology, Innovation and Communication (MCTIC). This year’s theme, “The Bioeconomy: diversity and wealth for sustainable development,” was ideal for GFI to present how plant-based and cultivated meat can create a sustainable food system.
As the keynote speaker for the event’s grand opening, Bruce had the honor of following the Minister of Science and Technology, Astronaut Marcos Pontes.
Gus, Minister Marcos Pontes, and Bruce at the stage of the 16th Biotechnology Week.
After this successful presentation, we were off to a series of meetings to increase research and development funding for plant-based and cultivated meat, as well as to smooth the way for a fair regulatory framework for new products.
First, Bruce, GFI-Brazil’s policy advisor Alexandre Cabral, and I visited the Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation, EMBRAPA, a state-owned research corporation affiliated with the Brazilian Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, and Supply (MAPA). EMBRAPA has 46 research centers and over 9,790 employees, making it Brazil’s largest non-academic scientific institution.
Then we met with GFI’s contacts at the Ministry of Science, Technology, Innovation and Communication (MCTIC) to discuss how the two organizations can work together to increase research in plant-based and cultivated meat in Brazil. The meeting was hosted by the Scientific Development Programs Department, and we met with its director Fabio Larotonda, head of the bioeconomy department Bruno Nunes, and science and technology analyst Daniel Chang.
Our final meeting in Brasília was at the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, and Supply, which plays the same regulatory role in Brazil as the USDA in the United States. The meeting was hosted by the secretary for innovation, rural development, and irrigation Fernando Camargo. We also met with the director of sustainable production and irrigation Mariane Crespolini, coordinator of articulation for innovation Isabel Carneiro, and coordinator of regional programs Clecivaldo Ribeiro. The government officials were very supportive of the science and regulatory agendas that support plant-based and cultivated meat development, and we look forward to working more with them in the future.
GFI at MAPA in Brasília, 2019. From left to right: Clecivaldo, Gus, Fernando, Mariane, Cabral, Bruce, and Isabel.
After finishing the agenda in Brasília, Bruce and I traveled to SÃ£o Paulo to speak at an event hosted by Prazeres da Mesa magazine. This is the largest gastronomy event in South America, with an entire day dedicated to food trends. We spoke about how the plant-based and cultivated meat industries are changing the way we produce food, creating huge market opportunities for anyone involved in the food industry.
Bruce Friedrich at Mesa SP, in Memorial América Latina, 2019
After speaking at the event, Bruce and I met with some of GFI’s partners from the industry. We sampled new plant-based products now available in Brazil and enjoyed these fruits of GFI’s efforts to support the growing industry.
To have a global impact on the food system, we need global partners. GFI-Brazil works in a key country to help advance the science of plant-based and cultivated meat. Brazil has a long history of agribusiness research and is a leader in a number of agricultural fields. GFI-Brazil continues to foster relationships among businesses, the scientific community, and policymakers that will support the development and production of delicious, affordable, plant-based products and make them available internationally.