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DJ Brazil Govt To Open New Agriculture Nanotech Laboratory
[April 17, 2006]

DJ Brazil Govt To Open New Agriculture Nanotech Laboratory

(Comtex Business Via Thomson Dialog NewsEdge)SAO PAULO, Apr 17, 2006 (Dow Jones Commodities News via Comtex) --The Brazilian government on Monday will inaugurate a new federally-owned laboratory dedicated to nanotechnology research in agriculture.

The 700-square-meter, 4 million Brazilian real ($1.8 million) lab, called the National Laboratory for Agricultural Nanotechnology, or LNNA, will be run by government research institution Embrapa.

Nanotechnology allows scientists to work with material at the atomic level.

Embrapa scientists have been working on nanotech projects since 2001. A group of scientists developed technology that could "taste" acidity in coffee, among other things. Roasted coffee quality is currently tasted by coffee experts, who take quick sips then spit out the coffee to judge taste.

A machine, translated literally to mean "electric tongue," is used to test wines and coffee through a series of chemical sensors.

"It can tell if it is testing white or red wine, and can judge the level of toxins in coffee," said Odilio Assiz, a researcher at Embrapa.

"Nanotech ultimately helps agriculture cut costs and improve results," said Gustavo da Paula, the chief scientist behind the coffee sensor technology developed at Embrapa.

"It's not a substitute for human coffee testing, but it just might in the future," da Paula said.

Da Paula said his nanotech coffee taste tester will be marketed commercially in late 2006, with interest from coffee roasters in India and Colombia.

Embrapa said its main line of research in the new lab will be developing biosensors - devices used in chemical analyses; quality control solutions; food tracking; "intelligent packaging" materials and nanoparticles to make reinforced materials from fiber-based products, such as coconut husks.

The lab, which is located in the interior of Sao Paulo state, will function as a center for scientific collaboration and as a service provider to the public and private sector, the Agriculture Ministry said in a press statement on Thursday.

-By Kenneth Rapoza, Dow Jones Newswires; 5511-3145-1488;
(END) Dow Jones Newswires

04-17-06 1217ET

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