The systematic destruction of the Brazilian biodiversity
Despite the protests from the international scientific community, the Brazilian government continues to execute and plan the destruction of priceless natural resources for the country and the world. As recently revealed by published recordings of government meetings Brazil's environment minister, Ricardo de Aquino Salles, openly laid out a proposal to systematically weaken key environmental legislation which will undoubtedly accelerate the destruction of previously preserved areas, as well as endangering efforts to recover degraded areas. Unanimously, the members of the Society for Research on Medicinal Plants and Natural Products (GA) denounce these abuses and urge the Brazilian government to enforce existing legal frameworks and adopt stricter measures to control and protect this unique heritage for the sake not only of the local population but for all humankind.
Knowing that especially rural people in many countries rely on local resources for their daily health care needs and remembering that at the same time a large part of the medicines marketed in the world today come from chemical compounds found in nature, the destruction of this forest is equivalent to the destruction of a unique chemical library as well as the destruction of economic potential.
The Brazilian biodiversity may hold the secret to solving some of the world's most prevalent health issues. The chemical compounds found there can become the drugs and solutions of tomorrow. A single active molecule isolated from a plant or micro-organism can save thousands of lives and generate important foreign investment for the country.
Photo by Tom Wheatley on Unsplash
It is particularly important to highlight the threat to the indigenous communities that have unique know-how of the use of plants and animals in the treatment of certain diseases. From an anthropological point of view, these peoples represent a unique perspective of human and social diversity, equally rich in its teachings and knowledge. Furthermore, the destruction of such an ecosystem will lead to the extinction of a large number of endemic living organisms (unique to this biome) and accelerate even further the process of climate change. Not only has the COVID-19 pandemic had a huge impact on the indigenous people of the Amazon, but it also resulted in an increase in the large scale deforestation in the region.
These are challenges which currently are a major concern for people in the Amazonian region of Brazil, but also for indigenous people all over the world. The murder of a traditional healer and Mayan Elder on 08.06.20, highlights the threats faced by indigenous people globally (cf. Article in The Guardian) and the associated impact on local communities as well as on biodiversity.
Unanimously, the Board of the Society for Medicinal Plant and Natural Product Research (GA) recommend the Brazilian government to urgently change course, enforcing existing legislation and adopting stricter controls for the protection of its natural heritage for the sake of the local population and all mankind.
A version of this article appears in print on June 7, 2020, Section A, Page 14 of the New York edition with the headline: Spotlight on Virus, Razing of Amazon Only Worsens.
The GA (Society for Medicinal Plant and Natural Product Research) is dedicated to the scientific exchange of information about medicinal plants, their pharmacology; the phytochemistry, biosynthesis, and biotechnology of natural products, and related fields to basic and applied research on medicinal plants and natural products. One of our key aims is to foster research and disseminate information about evidence-based medical uses of natural substances. This press release provides information and an assessment of the current scientific evidence for scientific, educational, and non-commercial use. It is for the purpose of disseminating information only and does not constitute and form of advice.
Emerson Ferreira Queiroz
Phytochimie et Produits Naturels Bioactifs Ecole de Pharmacie Genève Lausanne Section des Sciences Pharmaceutiques Université de Genève CMU –
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