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Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva has signed a series of bills aimed at continuing his legacy of investment in science after he leaves office next January.
The bills were signed at the fourth national conference on science, technology and innovation held in Brazil last month (26-28 May), at which he, and his science minister Sergio Rezende, were given a standing ovation by thousands of scientists, administrators and industrialists.
With both current and former presidents implementing policies beneficial to science and research, Brazil’s funding for science and peer-reviewed article output have more than doubled since 2003. It now produces 55 per cent of all Latin American peer-reviewed articles, amongst the increasing competition from other countries on the continent.
President Lula da Silva is expected to ensure a further boost to Brazil’s science by siphoning a set percentage of income from newly discovered oil deposits off the coast of São Paolo and Rio de Janeiro, before he leaves office. And frontrunners in the upcoming presidential elections (October), José Serra, and Dilma Rousseff are both expected to continue Lula’s science policies and raise spending on science to 2 per cent of GDP in the next decade.
"The conference is the first time that those at the heart of science, and those tangentially involved, have all been brought together — and at a point when things are really taking off," said Carlos Henrique de Brito Cruz, the scientific director of São Paulo’s state research foundation.
The conference will lead to a statement, to be put together by the country’s scientific elite, on where Brazil’s research focus should be in the coming decade.
The biggest issue Brazil’s scientists now face is not funding, but how to turn that funding into patented research that can improve quality of life and help the country’s economy grow.