Mario Christian Meyer

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Mario Christian Meyer
Born (1953-06-04)4 June 1953
Salta, Argentina
Nationality   Switzerland,  Brazil,  Argentina
Fields Neuropsychiatry, neuropsychology, neurolinguistics, cross-cultural psychiatry, epistemology, life sciences, biotechnology, medicinal plants, mythology, ecology, Sustainable development
Institutions Sorbonne
Known for Works on "Alliance between modern technology and ancestral knowledge", Valorization of Amazonian biodiversity, Amazonian forest, Amazonian indian
Influences Montaigne, John Locke, Rousseau, Kant, Castro Alves, José de Alencar, Machado de Assis, Nietzsche, Kierkegaard, Husserl, Bergson, Heidegger, Merleau-Ponty, Sartre, Jean Piaget, Lacan, Jacques Monod, Julian de Ajuriaguerra, Lévi-Strauss
Notable awards Giant of Ecology (2008)

Mario Christian Meyer is a Swiss-Brazilian doctor and advocate for the sustainable development of the Amazonia and preservation of its indigenous cultural heritage.

Early life[edit]

Meyer was born in Salta, Argentina. His father, Hermann Meyer, a Swiss polytechnics engineer specializing in agronomy, became a fazendeiro (large plantation farmer), first in Argentina, in the early 1930s, then in Brazil in 1954. His mother, Anne Camille Blanc de Corbières Meyer, was a Swiss structural engineer. The young Meyer spent his first months in Salta, where his father had established a Hacienda and an olive oil production plant. Because of Peronism, with its nationalism and isolationism, his family lost everything and, in 1954, consequently moved to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

In the book Embracing Amazonia published in Brazil, 2008, Eliana Spengler (Giant of Ecology Award coordinator) talks about Meyer's childhood and youth:

"… In his early years, he elected his father's library as his shelter; there he nourished his young mind and imagination reading books by classical Brazilian writers about Amazonian rainforest and Índios. Later, through encyclopaedias, he developed personal approaches to his numerous questions about the meaning of life ..."[1]

The stories of Brazilian authors Jose de Alencar, Castro Alves and Machado de Assis fueled Meyer's love of the Amazon, while reading Montaigne's Bon sauvage, Rousseau's État de Nature and Locke's concepts of empiricism and tabula rasa directed his thoughts on the nature of human development.

Later in life, Meyer experienced an Índios initiation rite, an experience that sealed his commitment to the Amazonian cause.


Early career[edit]

Meyer studied medicine, specializing in Developmental Neuropsychology and Child Psychiatry. He went on to teach at the Sorbonne in Paris. His thesis Apprentissage de la langue maternelle écrite: étude sur des populations autochtones dites socio-culturellement défavorisées dans une approche interdisciplinaire,[2] prefaced by Prof. Dr. Julian de Ajuriaguerra of the Collège de France, published by UNESCO,[3] examined the problems of underprivileged indigenous populations in learning written language.

This work for UNESCO has induced Prof. Dr. Meyer to study the contribution of western sciences (neuropsychiatry, neurolinguistics, neuropsychology, psychomotricity, etc.) to the approach of learning disabilities occurring with illiteracy in the developing countries. This official mission led him into the heart of the Amazonian Rainforest for the first time,[4] where he undertook an exhaustive case study about the different forms of graphic representations of the written language used by the Amerindians in their pictograms, ideograms, petroglyphs and body paintings (e.g. Genipapo – Genipa americana, Urucu – Bixa orellana), obtained using plant pigments,[5] where he discovered the power of their active ingredients. Meyer evolved from this work to a general effort to promote the value of indigenous ancestral knowledge and to preserve their natural environment (the Amazon).

Focusing then on the cross-cultural psychiatry's field, he develops through the 1980s his researches for a better understanding of the interactions between Culture and Psychism.[6]

In 1989, Meyer was made Fellow of the Paris Society of Medicine (in French Société de Médecine de Paris),[7] founded on the "2 Germinal year IV" (French Revolutionary calendar, i.e. 22 March 1796), originating from the Société Royale de Médecine[8] founded in 1730. There, he presented his works on Amazônia, which were to give birth to new medicines.

Ancestral knowledge and New pharmacology[edit]

Click on the image to enlarge

His missions in the Amazon rainforest (see Map at right) in close contact with the « People of Nature », the Índios[9] gave him a new conception of Man-Nature interaction.[10] They lead him to combine his expertise in neuropsychology in the field of linguistic and cultural diversity with his experience in biological diversity and its preservation by biotechnologies.

This association allowed him to fight for the transformation of the Amazonian biodiversity and medicinal plants into a truly genuine pharmacology benefiting both Amazônia and the Western world.[11]

Thus, from 1992 Prof. Dr. Meyer participated as an official member of the State of Amazonas delegation in the UN Earth Summit Rio 92.

It is in this context that, in 1994, he coordinated on Brazilian territory – after a due hand-over by the French Ambassador in Brasília – the first Ministerial « mission for biotechnology to valorize biodiversity » ever to be organized between France and the State of Amazonas.[12]

This mission, which had been initiated in 1993 by the French Minister of Research and Space Hubert Curien (via the National Programme of Biotechnologies, directed by Prof. Dr. Daniel Thomas), was carried out under the auspices of the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs, with the active involvement of the Governor of the State of Amazonas.

The Chief of the Tribe Marubo, Darcy Duarth Comapa, with Prof. Dr. Meyer at the Alto Javari in the Central Amazônia, discussing Amazonian plants' variety expressed in pictographs

In 1994, Meyer appeared as a special delegate from Brazil to the UNESCO's World Symposium on Literacy[13] in order to present his new approach merging linguistic abilities and biodiversity know how.

In 1999, Dr. Meyer was appointed by UNESCO to write a report on the means to consider in order to establish a "bridge of equitable communication and cooperation" between the Amazonian Amerindians and their traditional knowledge, on the one hand, and the Western world and its modern Culture, on the other hand. The bottom line was to set up the appropriate tools and create the necessary procedures for such a cooperation to be made possible, taking into account the specificity of cultural diversity, the way both these cultures function, and the pragmatic instruments of cooperation.[14]

Since then, he has gone on to found PISAD: Programme International de Sauvegarde de l'Amazônia, Mata Atlântica et des Amérindiens pour le Développement Durable [International Program to Safeguard Amazônia, the Mata Atlântica and the Amerindians for Sustainable Development], a humanist and non-profit organization. To implement it, he has created a "platform of fair and equitable dialogue – a bridge – between preserved Índios and western scientists"[15] to valorize the ancestral knowledge of the Índios and the Amazonian biodiversity. Originally, Meyer set up an operational concept and methodology regarding the psycho-cultural revitalization of endangered Amerindian knowledge which he had pioneered as Cogni'Índios.[15]

Recent work[edit]

Meyer is currently adapting a process for the bio-production of active ingredients contained in medicinal plants to the needs and abilities of the Índios, enabling them to manage the production of these pharmaceuticals and ensuring them economic autonomy and self-sustainable development. This bio-production is based upon the alliance between the Índios' know-how and a green biotechnology (Plant Milking Technology) developed by INPL – Institut National Polytechnique de Lorraine (National Polytechnic Institute of Lorraine), France.[16]

UNESCO's Participation Programme entitled "Amerindian Communication and Sustainable Economic Development Programme for a Culture of Peace in Brazilian Amazônia" (00 BRA 603), which Meyer managed from 1999 to 2003, has been a central element of his work and a starting point for his further action.[17]

In the last years, Meyer has been concentrating his activities on the innovative transfer of the "plant milking technology" to an Índios' community in the virgin rainforest: this is a unique example in recent history of an actual biotechnology transfer to Amerindians.[18] He is now focusing his work on the goal-achievement methodology of his original research and development programme to ensure a functional and active link between the Índios' ancestral knowledge and Scientist's advanced biotechnology.[19]

Awards and recognition[edit]

For his efforts, Meyer was awarded the Brazilian prize "Gigante da Ecologia" (Giant of Ecology) in 2008.[20]

Selected publications[edit]

For a more complete list, see Mario Christian Meyer (publications)

Scientific Publications[edit]

General Publications[edit]

  • "The Secrets of Water: from Universe to Cell [Os Segredos da Água: do Universo às Células]". Water, the Soul of Landscapes [Água, Alma das Paisagens.] (PDF). Ipsis Gráfica e Editora. 2009. pp. 12–37. 


  1. ^ Siqueira, Gustavo (2008). Embracing Amazônia (PDF). Brazil. 
  2. ^
  3. ^ Meyer, Mario Christian (December 1985). "Apprentissage de la langue maternelle écrite: étude sur des populations autochtones dites socio-culturellement défavorisées dans une approche interdisciplinaire" (PDF) (in French). 
  4. ^ in § 3, p. 85, Meyer, Mario Christian (1997). "Out of the Forest and into the Labs" (PDF). Amazon Up Close.  "Out of the Forest and into the Labs: Amerindian initiation into sacred science", "Amazon Up Close", New Jersey (USA), Hunter Publishing, 1997, Meyer tells the irrevocable attraction that he felt towards the Rainforest and its inhabitants on his very first contact with them: "The immense profusion of vegetal, animal and human life – as represented by Amazônia's vast biological diversity – exerts an irresistible fascination over everyone who has had the privilege to know it and to live with its indigenous population."; and in § 5:
  5. ^ Id. ibid. Note 4, in § 1, p. 86, Meyer, Mario Christian (1997). "New languages of healing" (PDF). Amazon Up Close.  "New languages of healing": "… I had the privilege of being able to document the immense richness of Amerindian graphic systems which, in their own way, constitute a type of natural though highly unconventional alphabet", says Meyer about his first study of the written language transmission in Amazônia; and in § 4:
  6. ^ Meyer, Mario Christian (January–February–March 1987). "Cultural shock, Neuropsychological and Cognitive functions of Symbolization and Psychiatric risk" (PDF). Journal de Psychiatrie Biologique et Thérapeutique.  Check date values in: |date= (help) M.P.H. Editions – J.P.B.T. n° 24, January–February–March 1987, pp. 6.
  7. ^ The "Société de Médecine de Paris" is the most ancient Society of Medicine still existing:
  8. ^ The "Société Royale de Médecine" was reformed in 1778 and abolished by the French Revolution by way of the law of "20 Thermidor year I" (French Revolutionary calendar, i.e. 8 August 1793)
  9. ^ Name given to Preserved Amazonian Amerindian people in opposition to Indians, who lost their culture by being in contact with the Westerners' dominant civilization.
  10. ^ In § 5, p. 6, article "Alliance between Traditional Knowledge and Biotechnology" (Aliança entre Conhecimento tradicional e Biotecnologia) published in the Brazilian newspaper "Amazonas em Tempo", October 8th, 2006, Dr. Meyer recalls: (...) "... it is fundamental to remember that before the arrival of the Conquistadors, the Índios had lived in the forest for at least 11.000 years (since the Upper Palaeolithic). And they had survived for thousands of years, without any outside support, in one of the most risky and hostile environments, thanks mainly to their deep knowledge of medicinal plants: this enabled them to cure the countless aggression they were submitted to in this habitat.", and: in § 6: (...) The indigenous communities that keep a high level of psycho-cultural preservation have the vocation to be the 'Guardians of Biodiversity' in the context of the Brazilian biodiversity national policy (PNB) and will deserve the title of 'Doctors of Nature'...":
  11. ^ Meyer makes a detailed review of pharmacological active principles arising from Amazonian biodiversity, and the means to preserve and add value to this precious knowledge and its depositary guardians. For more detailed review, see Note 12 (UNESCO, 2000):
  12. ^ Coordination of the “First mission of cooperation between France and Amazonia on biotechnology and medicinal plants under the aegis of French Ministry of Foreign affairs and Ministry of Research and Space”.  (Video),1994.
  13. ^ UNESCO (1994). World Symposium on Literacy (PDF) (Report). UNESCO. 
  14. ^ "Amerindian Communication and Sustainable Economic Development Programme for a Culture of Peace in Brazilian Amazônia", Tome I, Report of Activities and Evaluation, Paris, UNESCO Programme of Participation, 2000–2003, 250 p.
  15. ^ a b , Meyer, Mario Christian (9 November 2006). "Valorização dos Recursos Genéticos e novo olhar para a Indústria: Biotecnologia inédita para a saúde do Homem e da Natureza". Ambiente Brasil. 
  16. ^ in § 15, Meyer, Mario Christian (13 November 2006). "Valorization of the Genetic Resources and New Perspectives for the Industry: Unprecedented Biotechnology for Man and Nature Health" (PDF). Ambiente em Foco. , published in Ambiente en Foco, 13 November 2006, Meyer asserts that the proof comes through their innovative biotechnology, which "… is called PAT (Plantes à Traire = Plant Milking Technology). Thus, for the first time in the history, we created a 'practical procedure', which allows the Industrialists and the Forest Communities to speak the same language, and to have the same objectives: to produce economic and social results, while preserving Nature…"
  17. ^ "ECOLOGIA: Mario Christian Meyer, um "Gigante da Ecologia"". Noolhar. 
  18. ^ In §§ 2–3, p. 18, Meyer, Mario Christian. "The products of the Forest (Os Produtos da Floresta)" (PDF). , published in the Trade Magazine of the Trading and Industrial Association of Paraná State (Associação Comercial e Industrial do Paraná), Year 12, n° 119, May 2008, the Editor writes: (...) "Professor Meyer … was the creator of the first case in human history of a biotechnology transfer to the indigenous population (...), in Amazônia, the largest biological reserve on Earth, and the remaining 12% of the Atlantic Rainforest. (…) He underlines that about 10% of the 350,000 Índios in the Country still live with no contact with white men, in perfect harmony with Nature, and are capable of already using (in an empiric way) an advanced technology similar to the one that is being proposed to create the bio-products. According to an inventory that Dr. Meyer has prepared for UNESCO, beyond these 10% of preserved Índios, there are 100,000 more Indians having occasional contacts with the whites, who keep a preserved knowledge of Nature resources, and who could cooperate equitably with modern technologies."
  19. ^ In § 1, p. 29, Meyer, Mario Christian. "Princes of the Forests" (PDF). E.Fênix. , published in 2007 in the magazine E.Fênix, Year One, N° 1, Dr. Meyer says: ''(...) We concluded more than 20 years ago that creating an innovating and revolutionary alliance between traditional knowledge and biotechnologies would be the most sustainable way to preserve these unique assets of the Planet, while offering the native populations of the Forest a dignifying way of life. The former encompasses the ancestral knowledge of the forest's genetic resources initially acquired via empirical methods in situ. The latter is the ideal instrument available to our modern world in order to valorize biodiversity. A new model for concluding such an alliance exists today; it is our responsibility to take full advantage of it." :
  20. ^ "Entrevista: Mario Christian Meyer, um "Gigante da Ecologia"". Ambiente Brasil. 23 April 2008. 

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