Braunschweig – The Leibniz Institute DSMZ (Deutsche Sammlung von Mikroorganismen und Zellkulturen GmbH) is the first biological resource center ever to be entered in the European register of collections. This means that the DSMZ now officially meets the requirements of the Nagoya Protocol, by taking care of two essential tasks for customers: 1) reviewing whether a biological resource falls within the scope of the Nagoya Protocol, and 2) checking if all required documents and approvals are on hand.
“Anyone who orders a bacterial strain, fungus, or other microorganism from the DSMZ can be assured they have met the due diligence requirements of the Nagoya Protocol with that purchase,” explains Professor Jörg Overmann, Managing Director of the DSMZ. It is important to keep in mind that the purchase alone does not fulfil the due diligence requirements, but the customer must also download any available documents, read them, and abide by the conditions listed therein. Furthermore, the documents must be stored for at least 20 years.
The Nagoya Protocol is a binding treaty under international law, regulating the implementation of the objectives of the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). The CBD makes biological diversity, including genetic resources, the property of the country of origin. This applies for organisms of all kinds and their components; plants and animals as well as fungi and bacteria or even just DNA. The collection, dissemination, or use of these resources may, in turn, be restricted by the country of origin and require corresponding approval. Scientific research on an organism also constitutes a “use” under the Nagoya Protocol.
104 countries have ratified the Nagoya Protocol to date. The extent to which they have restricted access to their biological resources varies. Accordingly, the respective regulations and responsibilities vary considerably between individual countries.
“In principle, every scientist is obligated to personally determine what applies in a country and which permits need to be obtained,” Overmann says. “The Nagoya Protocol has made it considerably more difficult for science to work with bacteria or fungi cultures, which are among the most utilizable resources in the life sciences. Many underestimate the additional effort of obtaining Nagoya-related permission.”
As a Registered Collection, the DSMZ now can offer customers pre-screened, pre-approved resources with the accompanying documentation with no additional effort for the customers. “We are offering a unique service to the scientific community,” Overmann explains. “We have reduced the bureaucratic hurdles considerably so that scientists can once again focus on research.”
With the exception of a few plant cell lines the “registered” status applies to all of the more than 40,000 microorganisms, cultures, and DNA listed by the DSMZ in its official catalog that fall under the regulations of the Nagoya Protocol. Over the last few months, the DSMZ reviewed all of its resources, updated its entire catalogue, and adapted its ordering processes and quality control in order to comply with the requirements of EU Directive 511/2014 for acceptance into the register. The application was reviewed and approved by the German Federal Agency for Nature Conservation (BfN), Germany’s enforcement authority for the Nagoya Protocol.