Knowledge for a sustainable world

Authors: Aurélie Bechoff

A workshop entitled 'Trends in modern biotechnology for agriculture, food industry and health: a bi-national perspective' was recently held on the beautiful campus of Monterrey in the centre of Mexico City (6th - 9th May 2014) with the purpose of creating links between UK and Mexican research institutions.

The workshop was aimed at Early Career Researchers (ECRs) (with less than 10 years post-PhD experience) from both countries and applicants were selected based on their research experience. The British Council covered all travel expenses and living costs for the successful applicants. The event was co-organised by Cranfield University in the UK, the Instituto Tecnologico de Monterrey in Mexico City and CONACYT (National Council for Science and Technology). The organisers of the workshop, Jose Ordaz Ortiz from Cranfield and Rodrigo Balam Munoz from Monterrey, allowed plenty of time for discussion and networking between attendees from both countries.

Several distinguished scientists gave presentations: for example Prof. Cecilia Rojas De Gantes from Mexico who has been working on active packaging and biodegradable packaging for many years. Prof. Esther Lopez-Bayghen who is working to reengineer autologous urethras and vaginal organs in patients who were born without or with damaged organs and has recently published in The Lancet. From the UK, Prof. Naresh Magan who is a mycology world specialist and Prof. Sam Tothill who works on biosensors for diagnostic applications, both presented extremely interesting research work.

In addition, each ECR selected to attend the workshop gave a presentation about his or her research. Dr Aurélie Bechoff from the Natural Resources Institute began her presentation by introducing the work of NRI around the world; she then presented her own research on the effect of processing on pro-vitamin A carotenoid degradation in root crops and sensory and consumer acceptability of root crops in developing countries.

Aurélie said: "This is my first time in Mexico. I am glad I was selected to give a presentation and I thank very much the organisers for making this workshop possible. I was impressed by the quality of the research here in Mexico and the atmosphere was very friendly. I have had excellent discussions with the Mexican researchers. I hope we can build collaboration between my institution and Mexican institutions in the future. I am convinced that events such as this are key to achieving better scientific collaboration in the area of food science between our two countries."

More information about NRI's work on tropical root and tuber crops can be found here