The Brazilian government plans to invest approximately US$ 57 million this year on scientific and technological research in the Amazon.
"In 2004 this investment was on the order of US$ 24 million. It has more than doubled, which shows that the intention to support science and technology in the region is being confirmed," commented the president of the Brazilian Society for the Advancement of Science (SBPC), Ennio Candotti.
Candotti is in charge of a meeting of around 50 university presidents, deans, and coordinators of research projects from throughout the region at the National Institute of Amazon Studies (INPA), in Manaus.
According to the SBPC president, investments on science and technology in the Amazon need to be diversified. At present they are concentrated in the area of environment and natural resources.
"Investments should also be made in engineering, health, social sciences, and the basic fields of chemistry and physics," he said.
At the meeting, which ended Friday, March 3, the scientists are discussing research projects for the region. One of the projects that should be included in the file they will forward to the Ministry of Science and Technology is the organization of the Amazon Biotechnology Center.
"The federal government has already invested US$ 2 million on 12 laboratories that are in the installation phase. Of the 100 top-level scientists to be assigned there, we already have 78 at the institution," informed the Amazonas state secretary of Science and Technology, Marilene Correa.
In 2003 the US multinational Cargill built a port near the junction of the Tapajós and Amazon rivers in the city of Santarém, state of Pará. The port is used to ship grains.
Although the port has been operating for three years, a federal court has now ordered a formal Environmental Impact Study, which was not required by the Secretariat of Science, Technology and Environment of the state of Pará when construction of the port began.
According to government attorneys who filed the suit against Cargill, the company ignored an archaeological site near the port and caused possible ecological damages to the Tapajós River.
The port area extends for 580 meters along the banks of the Tapajós River and was built at a cost of US$ 9.4 million. Cargill is expected to appeal the decision to a higher court.