Import and export of biological samples from tropical countries–considerations and guidelines for research teams
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‘Biodiversity’ is increasingly perceived as an important resource for research and conservation, but also for economy. Conservation, access and sustainable use of biodiversity (genetic resources, species, samples) are negotiated on different political levels, resulting in an internationally binding legal framework. Resulting legislation is binding for all parties involved in biological sampling, i.e. researches and (and in italics) countries, and especially applies for tissue or DNA samples and dervied products thereof. Understanding and awareness of export and import permits for biological samples is increasingly important for biologists to perform research projects legally and timely. Nevertheless, some biologists are still exporting and importing biological samples ignoring or non-compliant with national and international legislation, conventions, and regulations. Resulting difficulties may not only cause serious problems during field work, but may also delay the export, import or exchange of samples. Comprehensive a priori information regarding legal requirements helps to avoid or at least diminish potential problems. We identified four major factors facilitating export/import permits: (1) good personal (mutually trusted) contacts in the country of origin, (2) understanding and compliance with all relevant laws and regulations; (3) access to information regarding knowledge on permits, regulations and laws including their circulation within the researcher communities; and (4) access to consistent and up to date regulations
KeywordsResearch samples Collection Export Import Legislation Permits Specimens Convention on Biological Diversity CBD Access and Benefit Sharing ABS Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora CITES European Union EU Country of origin
We would like to thank Netzwerk Forum Biodiversity Research Germany (→NeFo), a project in the frame of Diversitas Deutschland, funded by the Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung (BMBF), for support and funding. Further affiliates of the University of Ulm, DFG, and BfN have made the Berlin workshop and this publication possible and we are grateful for their support. The Bonn workshop was made possible by support from the Gesellschaft für Biologische Systematik (→GfBS) and from Zoologisches Forschungsmuseum Alexander Koenig, Bonn. Further information as well as the presentations are available online through NeFo (Appendix A). We also would like to thank Angelika Hänisch, Landesamt für Ländliche Entwicklung, Landwirtschaft und Flurneuordnung, Frankfurt/Oder, Germany, for helpful explanations of the import regulations for plants, plant parts and seeds, and Alexander Kocyan for comments on the manuscript. Jason Dunlop commented intensively on the manuscript. Last but not least two unknown reviewers gave corrections–at least one emphasized: the need for first talk to local contacts then do research is essential!
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