Brazilian botanists angry at Bolsonaro

Brazilian botanists angry at Bolsonaro

It’s not the kind of text you’d expect in a vegan essay: “Brazilians are fighting for their survival under a criminal, neglected and ineffective government, where more than half a million people have died from SARS-CoV-2.”

The indictment is in an article published this week figured in a botanical magazine Vegetarian Varieties † Brazilian botanists describe a new plant species in the genus Eugenia. How does a political cry from the heart end there?

Eugenia are in all respects from the Amazon. Plants come in all shapes and sizes. Like a tree as a shrub. Some are rare and some are common. Some species grow in the heart of the rainforest, while others grow on the edge. The colorful fruits are edible and attract birds. To date, 256 species have been described.

warty fruits

Botanist Bruno Amorim of the Universidade do Estado do Amazonas in Manaus, as a student, collected Eugenia plants in northeastern Brazil between 2009 and 2013. “I had very little knowledge at the time to identify Eugenia as a new species,” Amorim emails . “Only recently I was working with Augusto Giaretta on this genus, and he received his Ph.D. at Eugenias.”

Close examination of the collected plants showed that adherent fractures differed from other eugenia, such as pistil and pustular fruit. A new type in short. Whoever describes a new type can choose the name of the type.

Amorim and his team gave the plant Eugenia Quilombola, in honor of Quilombo communities of Africans who escaped slavery at the hands of Portuguese and Dutch settlers. Capoeira dance is said to have originated in the villages of Quilombo. In modern Brazil, quilombos are discriminated against and marginalized.

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Botanists suggest that this eugenia habitat overlaps with the location of the quilombo settlements as the reason for the name. But botanists also see the name emphatically as “a tribute to the resistance.” “Under President Bolsonaro, Quilombo’s rights are under more pressure,” Amorim said.

In explaining the naming, the etymology, the botanists also included their accusations against the government. Amorim is not worried that the political message will damage his scientific credibility. We use science as a distress tool. We have to force change. What is the alternative? Support a far-right government responsible for 662,000 deaths? Will it help our credibility? No thanks, I really don’t want that. As scientists we have to engage in a dialogue with the community, these One way to do it. I am proud of my colleagues who have supported this plan from the start.”

And what will Eugenia Quilombola achieve now that the Amazon has been deforested and the climate is warming? “There are very few groups known, the species are actually threatened with extinction,” Amorim says. “And if any bird or mammal depends on the fruits of this species, it is also in danger. Everything is connected.”

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