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Science and Technology Policy
Editorial de Oswaldo Luiz Alves publicado no Journal of The Brazilian Chemical Society, volume 7, número 3, july/september 1996

The Brazilian Chemical Society has just brought to a close one of the best Annual Meetings of its 19 years of existence. In spite of the small problems which occurred during the event of more than 2000 participants and 1500 papers presented, it was a high level scientific program which received the highest praises from all of the participants, especially from the foreigners invited from various countries. The great surprise for them was to see the newness of the Brazilian chemical community and the amount of progress which has been made in such a short time.

If on the one hand, this recognition made everyone proud and optimistic, on the other hand great apprehension was manifested in relation to the contradictory directions which the different governmental segments connected to science and technology have taken in their policies. For example, discourses are heard in which academic excellence is the basic argument for the formation of a solid scientific-technological substrate which permits the domestic industrial segment to face the challenges of globalization.

In contrast, for example, we see the way that the CPqD of Telebrás (the Center for Research and Development for the nationalized telephone company) is debilitated under the impact of the deactivation of its research and development activities in optical electronic materials and devices - one of the few high technology niches which is internationally and scientifically competitive. On the negative side of this picture is also the insidious campaign against the image of the university institutions, indispensable in any coherent and lasting policy for science and technology. Although we recognize that these institutions need certain changes, we cannot forget that they contain the graduate programs which certainly change the face of science in our country.

Such facts should be profoundly reflected upon by the entire community, above all by the scientific leadership which not only has the duty, but beyond this, the obligation to take care of the progress of science and technology in our country, under the penalty of leaving to one side a large contingent of young graduates who have embarked on a voyage without a destination.

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