New legislation in Brazil aims to create a balance between using genetic resources for scientific advancement and spreading the benefits among local communities fairly, as Eduardo Emrich of Biominas Brasil and Gabriel Di Blasi of Di Blasi, Parente & Associados explain.

Conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity has been discussed in Brazil for the past two decades. Brazil is home to one of the largest deposits of biodiversity in the world. Ensuring the security and best use of those assets was the main objective of Provisional Act No. 2,186-16, established in 2001. The act regulated access to Brazil’s genetic resources and derived products, which are considered public property for special use within the Brazilian territory.

It also acknowledged the traditional knowledge possessed by indigenous populations and local communities, and ensured the equitable sharing of benefits arising from the use of these resources. However, after the implementation of the 2001 act, researchers encountered significant barriers in exploring native Brazilian biodiversity for scientific advances, causing severe difficulties for the bioindustry in Brazil.

To address the challenges inadvertently resulting from the act, a new biodiversity law, Law No. 13,123/2015, was presented in May 2015 and enacted in May 2016 by Decree No. 8,772 with the purpose of facilitating access to genetic resources by establishing a set of protocols for application and approval to allow safe and monitored access. The new procedures accommodate the increased biological research going on in Brazil and fosters scientific advances.

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