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Study says the federal government's investment in science has returned to the level of 2009

Study says the federal government’s investment in science has returned to the level of 2009

Last year, the federal government invested less resources in science and technology than it did in the sector in 2009. The level in 2020 was R$17.2 billion, compared to R$19 billion 12 years ago, in inflation-adjusted amounts for the period. The survey was conducted by economist Fernanda de Negri, of the Institute for Applied Economic Research (Ipea), and obtained by condition.

Funding cuts result in one-off problems, such as the failure of the Lattes platform — a database containing information from all Brazilian researchers, which has been out for two weeks this month — to long-term effects, such as the loss of competitiveness from the economy. Since the beginning of last year, science has increased in importance with the demand caused by the pandemic, which includes studies on tests, drugs and vaccines against COVID-19, among other initiatives.

During the Jair Bolsonaro administration, the lack of funds was exacerbated by the retention of part of the National Fund for Scientific and Technological Development (FNDCT). The embargo has been banned by Congress, but about R$2.7 billion is still prohibited. According to the study by Fernanda de Negri, investment in science and technology in the federal government peaked in 2013. From that year through 2020, expenditures fell 37% in real terms (discounted for inflation). “After more than a decade of a relatively consistent cycle of expansion, investments in science and technology (…) (reach) in 2020 are below the level observed in 2009,” he says. In 2013, expenditures amounted to R$27.3 billion.

Expenditures are divided into several files and public bodies: from the Ministry of Defense to the Ministry of Economy, to which institutions such as Ipea and the Brazilian Institute of Statistical Geography (IBGE) are allocated. Not all of these organs were affected in the same way. The Ministry of Science and Technology (MCTI) was a dossier focused on cutbacks.

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It is led by astronaut Marcos Pontes, and is responsible for the National Council for Scientific and Technological Development (CNPq), the body responsible for Lattes and aid payments to researchers, as well as the Science Fund. Capes, another research funding agency, is linked to the Ministry of Education (MEC). “Practically all Brazilian research that is done in companies, universities or research institutions is funded by the resources of these three funds (CNPq, Capes and FNDCT). Even research institutions associated with MCTI, or Fiocruz and Embrapa, end up needing resources Additional research and recourse to FNDCT notices, as well as scholarships and training from CNPq and CAPES, the text says.

The three institutions together accounted for 40% of the total funding for science in the consortium – today the share is 28%. The foundations now own the same amount they controlled in the early 2000s. “The only reason the spending hasn’t gone down is because we have these two institutions, Embrapa and Vucruz, whose investment hasn’t gone down that much. But these two deal with the research they did themselves. It’s not about research within universities, companies, etc.,” Fernanda said. condition. “Obviously this has a very strong impact from the point of view of the training of scientists and will have a significant impact on our ability to produce knowledge in the future,” the researcher notes. Required by the report, the Ministry of Science and Technology has not commented.


In April, by penalizing the 2021 budget, Bolsonaro violated a supplementary law passed by Congress weeks earlier and banned R$5 billion from the FNDCT. The law prohibiting the freezing of funds from the fund was approved after intense pressure from the scientific community. Even research on covid-19 has stalled.

Now, the government indicates that it will release the remaining 2.7 billion R$ soon. Half should go to non-reimbursable projects – research grants and university projects – and the other half to social organizations (OSs) associated with MCTI.

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Says former MP and former Minister of Science and Technology Celso Bancera, Executive Coordinator of Parliament’s Science and Technology Initiative (ICTP). The chip for operating systems will go to entities such as the Brazilian Industrial Research and Innovation Corporation (Embrapii), the Institute of Pure and Applied Mathematics (Impa), and the National Center for Energy and Materials Research, responsible for the accelerating Sirius particle, in Campinas, among others.

“Brazil of 2021 does not fit the Brazil of the early 2000s,” says Renato Janin Ribeiro, president of the Brazilian Society for the Advancement of Science (SBPC). “Not only because the country’s population is growing, but because the number of college students is growing, from about 3 million to 8 million. So we have a lot of needs and more production today.”

According to Ribeiro, the lack of investment in research is exacerbating the “brain drain.” “In Brazil, it has always been like this: if you get a job at a university that pays for research, you will endure the worst difficulties, but you will not leave. Now, people do not even get jobs. That is why they leave,” he says. This means that society has paid them a lot, including masters and Ph.D., and we give these willing people free of charge to the rich countries. It is a very stupid and misleading procedure.”


Like many other researchers, 30-year-old agronomist Lucas Cavalcante da Costa already had to deal with the consequences of a lack of funding. In 2018, he presented a project to Oxford University on rice. The idea was to see how the plant, a staple in the Brazilian diet, reacts in an environment with a high concentration of carbon dioxide. This should be the global reality in the coming years, with climate change. The research was part of the Ph.D. at the Federal University of Viçosa (MG), and the scholarship will be funded by CNPq.

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Will be. Although the British researchers were enthusiastic and obtained the highest scores in all the items assessed by CNPq, Lucas ended up without funding due to a lack of funds. “My project was rated ‘Very Good’ and ‘Excellent.’ But, in the final opinion, CNPq wrote that the project, while very meritorious, was unthinkable through budget constraints. It was kind of frustrating, he says.” I had to explain to the foreigners that it would not happen due to lack of money.” Information from the newspaper State of Sao Paulo.

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