iGEM in the courthouse
Trying to understand more about the processes in the field of Environmental Law, we went to the magistrates, prosecutors, professors and researchers, who taught us about the law about waste management. Also we were close to the public agencies responsible for taking care of environmental damages. To round this up we meet Federal Public Prosecutors. We went to the eagle’s nest… and talked to them!
"Virada Sustentável 2016" - the biggest Brazilian event in sustainability!
We participated at the "Virada Sustentável 2016", which is one of the biggest events about sustainability in our nation; happening every year simultaneously in several Brazilian cities, including Manaus. In this meeting, organized by the Federal Public Prosecutors and State University of Amazonas, we spoke up in a discussion wheel about water resources management. During the conversation, we talked about riverside communities, aquatic flora and fauna, navigation through amazon's river and how heavy metal contamination can influence all that. Synbio held a special place in the conversation since we could brought the benefits of using our tools.
Discussion Forum about Biotechnology, Bioethics and Environment
Synthetic Biology was once again the focus of attention in this event that was organized by Biotechnology Committee of the Brazilian Order of Attorneys. The main themes were about environment protection policy and laws concerning mercury waste management.
Seminars about Human Rights violations and Mercury in the Brazilian Amazon
Regarding the political activities, our team had huge interest in better understanding the application of the Brazilian environmental legislation. For that, we got to know the Federal Prosecution Service and lawyers working in the Human Rights Clinic, as well as the Core Legal Practices of the State University. We set a seminar to address biological knowledge and environmental law, with themes such as Human Rights and the environment, bio-detection and bio-remediation of Mercury and Synthetic Biology as Tool for Nature Healing, Prospecting and Environmental Impacts activities, and Environmental Licensing. The seminar brought together approximately 60 students of law and biology background.
The event ran with students, researchers, lawyers and lawmakers who could walk together and offer a debate for legislative improvements for bioremediation alternatives such as synthetic biology, and employ education and prevention. We, as iGEMers, presented a possibility to establish a bridge between the lawmakers and researchers (academy). As a direct result, after the semineer, we were invited to join an under construction projection in Applied Human and Social Sciences which focus is rethinking the correlations with natural amazonic environment. This project counts with participation of many brazilian universities and international contributions of USA, Ireland and Indian institutions. We strongly believe and hope this first step can be a milestone to take mercury waste as serious at it is and open avenues for technology tools to be employed in bioremediation in a very near future. Nature deserves it and is thankful for that! Hurray, iGEMers!
Mobilization for a Public Civil Action
Continuing our job of making connections and bridges, we set a fantastic meeting with the Brazilian Federal Public Prosecutor's office through Isabela Sales, who was our public relations. We also had help from Matheus Costa, a law student who always answered our questions about Political Science. After long talks, discussion and supportive work, next step becomes (so) clear to us: we should initiate a Public Civil Action!
Public Civil Action is an instrument that can be used by people for accomplish participative democracy and can be used to involve various social actors. We based our public petition on sample’s analysis made by us on small creeks inside Manaus and one in a small village (Açutuba, 38,4 km away from Manaus). There are clear evidences that our water fountains, in fact, are contaminated by mercury. We even have isolated native bacteria naturally resistant to high concentrations of Hg (untill 70µg/mL!!!). And worse, this isolation happened in city creeks that flows to the Negro river, one Amazonian giant that goes to meet Amazon river. We came to the conclusion that governmental entities need to intervene in this issue, since it is a serious threat to human lives and environment.
We filled a protocol of intention providing data and literature about the damages Hg can cause based on our the iGEM Project and the preliminary data from the research conducted in good extension in Amazon (carried out by Inpa and promoted by the Sustainable Energy in Brazil company through the program P&D/ANEEL) that equally states the overall contamination in our region.
Obviously we would’t be satisfied with another process in protocol alongside many others… so, we made a scheme of what would be the following steps.
All of this is in progress right now and we believe that, until the Giant Jamboree, we will be at the step three (3) and we won’t stop until Public Civil Action is done and set up, then we finally will sleep in peace!