Opinion – Fundamental Science: Diverse science in elections: occupying columns across the country


It would have been expected, in other times, that the electoral debate would be guided by science to bring proposals and solutions to the country. In a time of record-breaking hunger, of the Amazon falling apart and of a pandemic that has not yet ended – just to name a few -, the participation of science in elections becomes even more urgent.

More than ever, scientists from all over the country and from different areas have to come out to the public to point out the urgent issues in their areas, which have to be addressed by candidates for the state and federal elections this year – including the top position of the country, presidency of the republic. We decided to give it a little push.

At the initiative of the Serrapilheira Institute and Maranta Intelligence Politica, throughout the month of July, scientists will occupy spaces provided by columnists to reflect on the role of #CiênciaNasEleições.

On National Science Day, celebrated this Friday (8), Agência Bori joins the initiative with the mission of adding diversity of voices and media vehicles to the #ScienceNasElections campaign.

Bori already has very close contact with the communities of scientists and journalists throughout Brazil. This is because the agency is a kind of showcase of national science, presented to the press in an unprecedented, anticipated and explained way.

Swapping for numbers: we put a new Brazilian scientific research every two days in our showcase, which is viewed by about 2,300 journalists of all journalistic vehicle profile — like this Folha, the newspaper A Crítica (AM) or the We women from the periphery. There are hundreds of Brazilian media registered with Bori.

We do this with a focus on three major thematic axes: Covid-19, Food systems and the Amazon. These are, as we have pointed out, some of the main themes that should guide the electoral debate.

Recent evidence has shown, for example, with data from the Brazilian Research Network on Sovereignty and Food Security (Rede PENSSAN), that hunger has exploded in Brazil. The number of Brazilians going hungry practically doubled in the survey from last year to this year — and we are talking about tens of millions of people.

We also told the media at Bori that bill 191/2020, which seeks to authorize the opening of indigenous lands for mining, could, according to scientists from universities such as Unesp and the federal universities of Pará and Tocantins, destroy the Amazon. The proposal is based on a misleading argument that preserving indigenous lands would negatively affect Brazil’s agricultural production.

And we guided the press with data from a survey from Ceará, which showed that four out of ten patients with diabetes hospitalized with Covid-19 died from the disease – a rate 15% higher than the national average. The numbers show the importance of national public health policies – transversal to the fight against the pandemic.

In our showcase of the country’s scientific evidence for the press, we also show that less than a fifth of patients receive adequate care for hypertension in the country, that conserving the Amazon costs seven times less than maintaining protected areas in Europe, per hectare, and that loss of vegetation increases the risk of zoonoses outbreaks. How do candidates for public office intend to face all these issues?

We need scientists and intellectuals to take a stand, bring their evidence and urgently guide the local or national public electoral debate. And we invited columnists of vehicles of all profiles, sizes and across the country to give their spaces to these researchers throughout the month of July.

At Bori, we will make “matches” between scientists and columnists especially outside the Southeast axis to talk about #CiênciaNasEleições. We want, for example, scientists from the North of the country to occupy newspaper columns in the region – or outside of it – to deal with the Amazon and other topics.

We need diverse science in an equally varied press. And we know that when science goes everywhere – even more so in times of elections – we all win.


Sabine Righetti is a journalist, PhD in scientific policy and researcher at Labjor-Unicamp. She founded the Bori Agency.

Natália Flores is a journalist, PhD in communication and content manager at Agência Bori.

This column was written for the #scienceinelections campaign, which celebrates Science Month. In July, columns and blogs reflect on the role of science in rebuilding Brazil.

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