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[MONTEVIDEO] Venezuela and Uruguay have signed agreements worth US$427 million to fund projects in medicine, biotechnology and cattle genetics.

The projects were announced by Uruguayan minister of foreign affairs Reinaldo Gargano last week (3 September) following a meeting of the Joint Commission Uruguay-Venezuela, which met by the end of August in Caracas, Venezuela. The meeting involved national authorities and entrepreneurs from both countries.

Uruguay will provide the knowledge and technology for the projects, which will be funded with Venezuelan money.

Uruguay has been granted US$144 million to build a pilot plant for research into the production of insulin and other biotechnology drugs. The plant will be built in facilities of the Pasteur Institute in Montevideo, Uruguay. 

Gargano said currently there are only three companies producing insulin worldwide and added that the plant could halve the cost of injectable insulin from the current US$12 per dose from 2008.

Gargano also announced the creation of a Centre for Reproductive Biotechnology and Cattle Genetics in Uruguay, with a US$70 million investment to optimise milk and meat production.