Convention on Biological Diversity

Its implications for culture collection users and depositors
The Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), or the ‘Rio Convention' as it is sometimes known, came into force on the 29th December 1993. While the full impact of the CBD on Culture Collections (including their depositors and end users/customers) is still awaited, equally the impact of the treaty on scientists isolating new organisms and those carrying out research and development on such organisms also requires clarification and resolution. The treaty which was mainly formulated with animals and plants in mind, does not fully appreciate the complicated issues relating to microorganisms and their dissemination. Hence, the consequence of the treaty on the scientific community and precisely how it is to be legislated for and policed, is of concern to us all and awaits direction. This advice and direction may have to come from the governments of signatory countries, hopefully with input from a number of relevant societies and regulatory bodies including the World Federation for Culture Collections (WFCC).

Until such direction is forthcoming, it is part of DSMZ's responsibility to ensure that depositors of organisms in the culture collection, as well as recipients of cultures isolated post ratification are aware of their obligations under the treaty. Of particular relevance in this respect is article 15 of the CBD. This article emphasises the sovereign right of individual countries to genetic resources within their borders and states that no such materials should be removed without agreement between the contracting parties, i.e. the recipient and the government or government appointed representative of the country of origin. "Prior Informed Consent" (PIC) should be obtained by a collector of samples from the appropriate representative within the country of origin and "Mutually Agreed Terms" (MAT) for the transfer of the material should be reached before removal or use of that material. MATs are designed to ensure that a fair and equitable sharing of benefits resulting from the export from the country of origin and subsequent commercial exploitation of microbial genetic resources (MGRs) are returned to the benefit of that country. Such benefit sharing provisions can be of a monetary or non-monetary form. Examples of the latter would include technology transfer, training, provision of research data and/or materials, scientific collaborations etc.
It is the responsibility of end users/depositors to ensure that these undertakings are complied with.

Notice to Depositors

As a consequence of ratification of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) it is your responsibility as depositor to ensure the MGRs were collected with the Prior Informed Consent (PIC) of the country of origin and that the deposit of the samples in an open collection does not infringe any national obligations. DSMZ will not accept deposits without disclosure of the country of origin (see DSMZ- accession form).

Notice to Recipients

End user obligations under the CBD

It is the responsibility of all recipients of DSMZ cultures who reside in countries that are signatories to the CBD to ensure that the use of organisms received complies with the general requirements of the CBD and with any regulations drawn up by your own country. It is also in customer's interest to keep traceability records where DSMZ cultures are subsequently passed on to a third party and to ensure the third party is made aware of its obligations under the Convention. DSMZ accepts no responsibility for the breach of any requirements relating to the CBD.

Reference material:

L. Glowka, F. B. Burhenne-Guilmin, H. Synge: A guide to the Convention on Biological Diversity, 1994, IUCN.