Brazilian President signs new biodiversity law
On May 20, Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff signed a new biodiversity law(No. 13123/2015) that will regulate access to genetic resources of Brazilian biodiversity for research, protection and access to the associated traditional knowledge of indigenous communities and the sharing of benefits when accessing Brazilian genetic resources.
The new law revoked Provisional Measure No. 2186/2001, aimed at fighting against biopiracy by ensuring that Brazilian indigenous communities received enough compensation for scientific research involving genetic resources of Brazilian biodiversity and traditional knowledge. However, the law has been criticized as being excessively bureaucratic.
According to the Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation, Aldo Rebelo, Brazil “had a protectionist legislation which was criminalizing research. It was holding back scientific research and development based on biodiversity, as well as private investment in research.” Rebelo added that “the new legislation protects the environment, research, traditional knowledge, and innovation in industry, thus encouraging the creation of new jobs, income and tax revenues.”
Therefore, one of the main advantages of the new regulatory framework is to simplify the process for accessing Brazil´s genetic heritage, which the new law defines as “information of genetic origin resulting from plant, animal, microbial species or species of other nature, including substances derived from the metabolism of these living beings.”
The new law provides that researchers, R&D institutions and national companies can request the access to the biodiversity resources through an electronic registry in a database (yet to be created and regulated). Foreign companies can apply for access to genetic resources, provided they are associated with Brazilian R&D institutions. This measure replaces the previous authorization processto access genetic resources, which required the submission of documentation and reports to the Board of Management of Genetic Heritage (CGEN), which caused delays and high costs for applicants.
The new law also establishes the creation of the National Benefit Sharing Fund (FNRB), which will receive part of the net annual revenue from proven commercial benefits of a final product manufactured from Brazilian genetic resources or traditional knowledge.
According to this, any company manufacturing products based on Brazilian genetic heritage or traditional knowledge will have to transfer between 0.1% and 1% of the revenues to the FNRB, which will distribute part of these benefits to traditional and indigenous communities.
Another change introduced by new law 13123/2015 is a higher involvement of civil society in the Genetic Heritage Management Council (CGEN, created with the former biodiversity law), previously managed entirely by bodies and entities of the federal public administration. It is now established that at least 40% of group members must be representatives of business and academic sectors, indigenous communities and traditional farming communities.
The new law, which will enter into force on November 17, 2015, is expected to be regulated during this interim period.
Click here to read the Brazilian new law 13123/2015.
Check upcoming posts on Moeller´s blog for updates on the implementation of this new biodiversity law.