There are some positive developments. Prodded by its own scientists, the Brazilian government implemented a system last year expediting licenses to collect biological material for scientific research—although applications involving conservation areas or the export of biological samples were excluded from the new rules. Some Western research institutions, such as the New York Botanical Garden, have put together detailed protocols outlining benefit-sharing opportunities for host countries that have helped facilitate scientific research and exchanges.
But as nations renew their commitments to the biodiversity convention, “many are tightening up regulations,” says Phyllis Coley, a plant sciences professor at the University of Utah. Panama, for example, used to have one of the most liberal attitudes toward foreign scientists but is now drafting more restrictive legislation, she states. Framing biodiversity in terms of political boundaries and sovereign intellectual property was supposed to encourage preservation, the Smithsonian’s Funk says. “It’s backfired,” she declares. “We have to conserve life on its own terms.”
Note: This story was originally printed with the title, "Turf Battles".
This article was originally published with the title Turf Battles.