Maria de Lourdes Torres is a full-time professor at Universidad San Francisco de
Quito, Ecuador (USFQ). After finishing her Ph.D. studies in plant molecular biology
at Freie Universität, Berlin, Germany, she returned to her home country where she
created and established the Biotechnology Area at USFQ. Since 1997 she is the Head
of the Biotechnology Department. In addition to the different courses she teaches
-such as Molecular Biology, Biosafety, Agrobiotechnology and Microbiology- she also
organizes the career curriculum and oversees other professors and students in the
area. Currently she is also directing different research projects mainly related
with in vitro culture and with the molecular characterization, through the use of
microsatellite and AFLP markers, of the genetic variability of two tropical fruit
crops of great agronomic importance to Ecuador.
Within the area of biosafety, she has already completed, with the help of her senior
students, three public awareness surveys related to genetically modified organisms
(GMO). It is important to mention that this is a pioneer project in Ecuador, since
no other studies have been carried out in this field.
As a consultant, she has developed different documents mainly in the area of biosafety
concerned with genetically modified organisms, genetic resources and genetic diversity.
The last one was related to a study in which the different biosafety regulations
of 12 countries were analyzed. This study was used as the basis for the formulation
of a national biosafety regulation in the context of establishing the national biosafety
Over the past nine years she has also been involved in the development of policies
and regulations in Biosafety related to the use and management of genetically modified
organisms. She has worked as a consultant and advisor for her country’s Ministry
of Environment and Ministry of Agriculture. Between 2003 and 2005, she was the president
of the National Coordination Committee of the Biosafety Project UNEP-GEF; a project
implemented by the Ministry of Environment.
Since 2006 she is a member of the National Biosafety Committee, and acts as a delegate
for the academic sector.
During this period, she has had the opportunity to attend several international
training courses within the field, act as a speaker in several international and
regional seminars and congresses, and participate as Ecuador’s representative in
a number of international workshops. Currently she is the official Ecuadorian delegate
in the discussions of Article 27 from the Cartagena Protocol.
Throughout these years, Ms. Torres has gained a great experience working with different
stakeholders, such as government officials, NGOs, the private sector and the academia
in the areas of risk assessment, public awareness, and biosafety regulations.
Her participation in different workshops, meetings and congresses, has helped Ms.
Torres build a strong contact network with different Latin American professionals,
which has focused on the discussion and improvement of biosafety issues in the Region.
Her extensive experience ensures successful guidance in project planning, implementing,
monitoring, evaluating, and training of personnel.