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Letter from the editor | 193

Solid contributions to Rio+20

São Paulo scientists want to have a decisive influence upon the debates, so that Brazilian research will contribute effectively to the decisions to be made at Rio+20, the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, to be held from June 20 to 22. Of course, not all the community is engaged in this; it is mainly those who research biodiversity, renewable sources of energy and global climate change, and who are involved in projects supported by major FAPESP programs in these fields. It is a substantial ambition, which is why, just three months before the conference, it has become the cover story, written by our policy editor Fabrício Marques, of this Pesquisa FAPESP issue. Nevertheless, other factual data underlie this choice: on March 6 and 7, the concerns and proposals of São Paulo researchers started coming to light in a systematized fashion, at a workshop that FAPESP organized. Assuming everything goes as planned, this meeting will produce for the committee of the conference a document  which is not subjective, but based on the responses of hundreds of researchers to a questionnaire designed to find out their views on the themes at the Rio+20 agenda. At this point in time, it is unquestionable that issues such as the creation of a Brazilian climate model and the paths to the sustainable production of biofuels will be among the topics of  the contribution from São Paulo. For more detailed information, it is worth reading the article.


Among the articles produced by the office of the science editor, I would like to highlight a study that, had it been posted on the social networks, would easily have reached the status of a trending topic. Since December, this study, published in PLoS Biology and showing a situation in which intestinal bacteria can harm the human body, has been accessed 11 thousand times, a measure of the degree of interest that it awakened. Led by professor Mário Abdalla Saad, from the State University of Campinas (Unicamp), the team responsible for the work showed that a given group of intestinal bacteria can, under certain circumstances, trigger a metabolic imbalance connected with insulin resistance and is able to lead to the development of diabetes and obesity, two major contemporary public health problems. It is well worth reading this article by our science editor, Ricardo Zorzetto.


Sorghum, a plant better known as a source of forage for cattle or seeds for birds and swine, has become, in this issue of the magazine, the pièce de resistance of the technology section. And all because this plant from the grass family and a relative of sugarcane is being prepared by Embrapa researchers to enter the Brazilian energy grid. Sorghum ethanol, as our technology editor, Marcos Oliveira, explains, should supply the habitual scarcity of sugarcane alcohol from December to March, with a positive impact on the price fluctuation of the fuel. One must wait and see, but one can already learn further details about the project.


I will close the highlights of this issue with the opening article in the humanities section, which pores over a study of the 20-year cycle of union strikes in the São Paulo ABC area. The epicenter of the phenomena lies between the years of 1985 and 1992. The fact is that the 118 strikes of 1978 and the more than 2 thousand strikes in the 10 subsequent years put Brazil among the countries with the largest number of stoppages in the western world, according to the article by our humanities editor, Carlos Haag. What was the point of all these strikes, other than the obvious demands concerning wages? It is worth reading the text to come into contact with a view in which the strikes of these years were part of Brazil’s path toward democratization. In other words, toward the maturing of Brazilian society.