Brasilian Congress of Entomology

Andrew Smith asmith at UNLSERVE.UNL.EDU
Fri Apr 27 09:03:58 CDT 2001


I thought some of the taxacom subscribers might be interested in the
message below.  It is especially relevant to those of us who work on
Neotropical organisms!


>Prezados Colegas,
>Segue o informativo do XIX CBE para conhecimento e providencias.
>>Por favor divulgue o XIX Congresso Brasileiro de Entomologia entre os
>>pesquisadores, e professores. "A Entomologia no S├ęculo XXI e o Manejo da
It is ironic that the theme of this meeting is managing biodiversity when
it now seems impossible for scientists outside of Brasil to conduct any
biodiversity research in Brasil.  The vast amounts of data associated with
specimens in Brasilian museums are effectively closed to the rest of the
world because it is impossible for both Brasilian and non-Brasilian
scientists to exchange, borrow, or loan scientific specimens.  We cannot
even RETURN Brasilian museum specimens to Brasil under the current laws for
fear that these specimens will never get to the museums because they will
be confiscated by alfandega for lack of proper documentation.  Brasilian
scientists are being restricted in their studies by these regulations as
well as others.

Brasil is an extremely rich nation in terms of biodiversity, and it will
require the efforts of the international community to fully document and
understand that biodiversity.  I believe that most scientists wish to fully
cooperate with their Brasilian colleagues for conducting reseach and to
fully cooperate with Brasilian museums for loans of specimens and
especially deposition in Brasilian collections of type material of new
species of Brasilian insects.  However, under the current laws, this kind
of collaboration is now impossible.  Our efforts to understand biodiversity
in Brasil are doomed to failure if the WORLD systematics community cannot
also be included in research endeavors in Brasil.  There are not enough
Brasilian scientists or enough time left before critical habitat is
destroyed forever for Brasil to do all of this alone.  We WANT to help in
understanding Brasil's biodiversity but are now prevented from doing so
because of politicians who fail to understand what it is that we must still
do to document biodiversity. . .  especially with regards to the huge
diversity of Insecta that yet remains unknown in Brasil.

Last August, our team attended the International Congress of Entomology to
present results of our studies.  We also visited the entomology collections
in Belem, Rio, Sao Paulo, and Manaus where we provided identifications for
thousands of specimens, curated collections, revised the old nomenclature
of numerous taxa, and donated copies of our scientific publications.  We
did a lot of work in these collections to make them better and more
accessible by the user community.  We also set aside specimens that we
would like to receive on loan for our studies of Neotropical taxa.  To
date, we have received none of those loans.  The loans cannot be sent by
our Brasilian colleagues because the current regulations forbid it.  How
can we conduct thorough research on Neotropical biodiversity if the largest
country in South America will not grant loans of scientific material for
scientists to study?  How can we document the rich biodiversity of Brasil
before it is too late and that biodiversity disappears forever?   How can
you have a congress on maintaining biodiversity when you don't even know
the composition of that biodiversity? Clearly, our research results and
monographs will have very large gaps if the world scientific community
cannot study Brasilian collections and their associated data.  Brasil and
the community of international scholars will be the poorer for it.

I hope we can all work together to achieve common goals in understanding
and documenting insect biodiversity AND that Brasil will provide major
contributions to these efforts.  Then, truly, we can have a real Brasilian
Congress of Entomology with a theme of preserving biodiversity.  We look
forward to working with our Brasilian colleagues, and we share with them
their dismay about misguided rules implemented by politicians acting
blindly in the name of biotic patrimony.

Brett C. Ratcliffe
Curator & Professor
Systematics Research Collections
W436 Nebraska Hall
University of Nebraska
Lincoln, NE 68588-0514  U.S.A.

TEL: (402) 472-2614
FAX: (402) 472-8949
INTERNET: bratcliffe1 at

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