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Letter from the editor | 91

Green, how I want you green

Pesquisa FAPESP brings, inserted in this issue, a present for its readers: the map of the green in São Paulo. It is a poster, sized 80 by 52 centimeters, which shows the remaining vegetation in the state of São Paulo. And even though more sensitive eyes may be shocked at the vast clearings in the primitive and at this point of time only imagined plant cover in the state, in actual fact, the map is a harbinger of some excellent news: the green area of São Paulo is growing, albeit slowly. It is the first time since the arrival of the European colonizers to these lands to the south of the equator that a reversal in the trend for deforestation has been registered in these climes. The people of São Paulo and all the Brazilians who are worried about the baleful contributions of the country to the ample roster of threats perpetrated every day, in the whole world, against the health of the planet, can, in this case, commemorate.

For our part, we are commemorating not only the good news, but also the very publication of the map, one of the products of the Biota-FAPESP program. It results from the cooperation and concentrated effort of lots of folks. In particular, from the team of researchers of the Forestry Institute, headed up by Francisco Kronka, that coordinated the preparation of the map, took care of transferring it into a language that would facilitate its publication by the magazine, accompanied the final stages with the editors of Pesquisa FAPESP and, as if that were not enough, exerted itself in the quest for partners that would make it financially feasible to print circulate it without any additional cost for the magazine.

But one has to recognize here the efforts of the team of the magazine itself and the support of the private companies that sponsored this present for our readers. Not to forget, the preparation of the article that details what the map makes it possible to visualize succinctly, was coordinated by editor Carlos Fioravanti.

In the article that is this issue’s cover story, we focus on research whose results, were we to yield to the facile temptation of mechanical transpositions, would prove to be alarming to us humans. Because researchers from São Paulo and from Rio Grande do Sul, who are working jointly on a research project about the female reproductive system, observed that the stress caused in laboratory animal offspring by brief periods of separation from their mother, in the days following birth, produces irreversible brain damage in recently-born rats and may prompt a picture of infertility in a major part of these animals, in the course of their adult life. As special reporter Marcos Pivetta, the author of the article, observes, it would be rash here to make a simplistic comparison between rats and men but, keeping the necessary distance, it is not entirely bereft of logic. So much so is it that one of the lines of study of the researchers involved in the project is trying to measure the possible negative effects of any little interaction between mothers with postpartum depression and their newborn children, a situation that may have some similarity with the experience of neonatal manipulation in rats.

Still in the domains of science, this issue brings an article (page 40) with a balance of the Sugarcane Genome project, taking advantage of the favorable moment when, in the next few days, Genome Research publishes the scientific article that describes the functions of the main groups of the plant’s genes, within an identified set of 33,000.

To conclude, in the area of technology, we highlight the article on the most diverse forms of prosthesis made with a biopolymer of the castor-oil plant, developed by researchers from São Paulo, which now, certified by the Food and Drug Administration, the powerful FDA of the United States, should win an international market.