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The world pharmacy that has been losing its secret keepers

This blog post emerged as one of the five winners that participated in the YPARD and AGRINATURA e-competition for the PhD. Category. The competition which was tagged ‘your Research your Story!’ aimed to help students have a better sense of ownership of their research and to communicate the most important parts of their research in a creative easy to read storytelling way.

Enjoy reading!

The impact of tourism and modern technology on the indigenous peoples of the Amazon have been particularly intense in the last decades. Recently, young natives from local villages are moving to cities,  pushed by imaginations about a better future. But these youths often do not correspond to this world,  as they very quickly forget the place which they came from. This makes them confused. They are reminiscent of an unpredictable shot that is rushing forward to new tomorrows. Illusions sometimes leave faster than they came, but it is too late to return to the previous lifestyles. 

A larger village suddenly becomes a town and a town becomes a huge city in a while. Cities are bursting at the seams. Moreover, in an accordance with the rapid development, the infrastructure does not exist as same as the waste management and neither other essentials of a big city. Employment has never been high, but now there is little work. And it will be even less, although the population is still increasing. 

Forests are being cut down with all the wealth we know it is, but we will never have the opportunity to find out what we have never really discovered before, because of our greed for consumption. And the  Amazon hides a lot of unexplored secrets. We also lose lots of knowledge through the loss of ethnic groups. We will never learn how to use plants and their various combinations again, which have been discovered and used for thousands of years. Some plant compounds together form an ideal structure that has a positive effect on the human body. Out of the millions of options, the people there have been learnt for centuries, how to use a unique compound with another one in an order to eliminate the occurrence of side effects. But indigenous tribes came out with these results without technologies. But we still consider the inhabitants of the forest to be primitives, who certainly by chance found out to such conclusions. But what if they know other rules that the model governs? 

Spanish colonizers, missionaries, and conquerors have successfully participated in the overwhelming destruction of native people, their knowledge and traditions. With our lack of respect for nature and often only with the vision of the profit from the overexploitation of natural resources, we allow for all that diversity to disappear. We will have to start from the beginning until we learn. 

By asking the information on the herbal markets we can arouse interest and curiosity in local communities about their traditional healing methods. The cultural differences between us and the ethnic groups are enormous, we do not have the capacity to absolutely understand them, just as they are less accepting of ours. But at least, we can accept all of us and try to help each other to conserve the knowledge and traditions we have. Maybe this decision could save our lives one day.

Picture credit: Dita Mervartová