Scientists, researchers, and specialists from all over Brazil met at the headquarters
of the Scientific and Technological Enterprise Foundation (Finatec), in Brasília,
to discuss the application of scientific information produced by the Large-Scale
Amazônia Biosphere-Atmosphere Experiment (LBA) in the formulation of
government policy for the Amazon region. The encounter served as a preparation
for the III LBA Scientific Conference, which took place from July 27-29, also
Among other topics, the
participants considered science's potential contribution to the implantation
of a national strategy for conservation and the reduction of greenhouse gas
emissions in the Amazon region.
Emphasis was placed on
deforestation rates, changes in land use, recovery of degraded areas, burnings,
and other problems caused by human intervention in the forest.
The LBA, led by Brazil,
is the world's largest international scientific cooperation program for environmental
studies in tropical regions.
Established in 1998, the
LBA has been, and continues to be, responsible for various scientific discoveries
about the way Amazonian ecosystems function, as well as thousands of findings
vital to the sustainable development of the region.
Findings such as those
provided by the 17 towers installed in Amazônia for measuring water
vapor and carbon dioxide flows, heat currents, and gas transfers between the
atmosphere and the earth's plant cover were the subject of a presentation
on Forest Environmental Services and the Carbon Balance, by Antônio
Nobre, a researcher at the National Institute of Research on the Amazon (Inpa).
According to the researcher,
this matrix of environmental studies and observations is enlarging the capacity
to monitor integrated carbon exchange behavior for the entire Amazon biome.
"We are beginning
to discover the peak of the iceberg in terms of the Amazon's complexity,"
he observed. In his view, it is possible, with intelligence, science, and
technology, to conserve the functioning of the Amazon's ecosystems and reverse
the process of forest destruction.
humanity is exterminating microorganisms and jeopardizing the planet's equilibrium,"
the researcher said, criticizing the destruction of native forests to expand
Nobre calls for the implantation
of integrated projects and the recovery of degraded areas in the region: "We
have the capacity to change this picture of destruction and to reconstruct
Sustaining the Amazon
As Nobre sees it, the
application of science and technology to the sustainability of Amazônia
should necessarily be accompanied by policies for the eradication of poverty,
social justice, and sustainable production and consumption habits.
In his talk on the LBA's
experiments and their importance to the Amazon, Nobre defended the consolidation
of large research networks capable of stimulating scientific knowledge in
In his opinion, at least
four large research centers would be required, with around 3 thousand researchers
engaged in a network with an annual budget of US$ 500 million.
The LBA studies the interactions
between the Amazon Forest and atmospheric and climatic conditions on a regional
and global scale. Altogether, over 1,200 research projects on the region's
biological, chemical, and physical functions have been carried out.
According to the researcher,
the LBA's results are providing a scientific foundation for the implantation
of policies for the sustainable use of the Amazon's natural resources.
Technology and Health
More than 600 delegates
from the areas of health, science, and technology have presented options that
create greater proximity between scientific research and activities intended
to benefit public health in Brazil.
The 2nd National Conference
on Science, Technology, and Innovation in Health, was opened by the Executive
Secretary of the Ministry of Health, Gastão Wagner.
The Secretary pointed
out that research in the health area must be reflected in outcomes that decrease
the limitations of public health in Brazil. The government's plan, according
to the Secretary, is to establish an organ linked to the Ministry of Health
to administer resources and scientific research activities in this sector.
"We are changing
science and technology policy in the Ministry this year and in 2005. We need
to put together an organization to manage the resources," he underlined.
For his part, the coordinator
of the Conference, Reinaldo Guimarães, who represents the Ministry
of Science and Technology, said that he hopes the debates in the Conference
permit the government to redefine its stance with regard to the production
process in the health area, especially the manufacturing of drugs and components
by Brazilian industries.
"There is a trade
deficit of around US$ 3.5 billion in this sector. Moreover, Brazil is unprepared
when it comes to the production of a series of absolutely strategic products,
such as blood derivatives and insulin, for example. We must arrange means
to increase our self-sufficiency in terms of the products produced in this
country," he emphasized.
The 2nd National Conference
has united various specialists in the search for solutions that will draw
research closer to the reality of public health in Brazil.
The 1st Conference was
held ten years ago, and, according to the organizers of the meeting, most
of the proposals made in 1994 were implemented by the Ministry of Health and
other federal government organs.
Maurício Cardoso works for Agência Brasil (AB), the official
press agency of the Brazilian government. Comments are welcome at firstname.lastname@example.org.
from the Portuguese by David Silberstein