2 April 2019 – Representatives of the Chinese Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs (MARA), the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences (CAAS) and CABI met for the 11th Steering Committee of the MARA-CABI Joint Laboratory for Biosafety at CABI’s Swiss Centre in Delémont. The meeting was an opportunity to review the Joint Laboratory’s achievements in 2018 as well as approving its plans for 2019.
Delegates also took the opportunity to officially unveil the plaque of the European arm of the Joint Laboratory, named the ‘MARA China-CABI European Laboratory’, at CABI’s existing facilities in the Swiss canton of Jura.
Mr Wang Hongqian, Deputy Director General, International Co-operations at MARA and CABI Executive Council member for China said, ‘The European Laboratory is the first overseas joint laboratory established by MARA and an International Organization. Building on our existing successful collaboration between CABI and MARA, we would like to explore a new model of international scientific and technological exchange and cooperation via the European Laboratory, to carry out research and development activities in agricultural science and technology with international influence and contributions to the Belt and Road initiative.’
The European Laboratory will be closely affiliated with the existing MARA-CABI Joint Laboratory for Biosafety, located in Beijing at IPP-CAAS, and will be governed by the existing Joint Laboratory Steering Committee.
Dr Ulrich Kuhlmann, CABI’s Executive Director of Global Operations, said, ‘The Joint Laboratory stays ready to embrace new opportunities and challenges in 2019, particularly through more triangular collaboration, particularly South-South Co-operations, and through the new European Laboratory.’
In a first step, two young and talented Chinese scientists will come to work at the European Laboratory on projects of joint interest. It was also agreed to explore funding options for triangular collaboration projects involving the Joint Laboratory in China, the European Laboratory in Switzerland and partners in Africa or Asia.
Professor Mei Xurong, Vice President, CAAS, said, ‘What we have planned for 2019 addresses the needs of global sustainable development. I am confident that with further joint efforts from MARA, CAAS and CABI, the Joint Laboratories will continue to be one of the top platforms of its type within the Chinese agricultural research and development community, drawing international attention.’
Mr Simon Zbinden, Co-Head, and Mr Michel Evéquoz, Senior Advisor and CABI Liaison Officer for Switzerland from the Swiss Agency for Development and Corporation’s (SDC) Global Programme on Food Security, joined the meeting for a Round-Table discussion.
Mr Zbinden said, ‘We are very pleased to witness the growing links between CABI and China, and SDC would like to use the opportunity through the establishment of the European Laboratory to pave the way for sustainable agricultural production in developing countries, but also to potentially tackle questions of biosecurity and invasive species.’