CODE OF ETHICS for Research on Biological Diversity involving Access to Genetic Resources of Sri Lanka

Document published by Biodiversity Secretariat
Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources
82, Rajamalwatta Road,
Battaramulla, Sri Lanka

PREAMBLE

Sri Lanka is an island nation, which has a high level of biological diversity and a high percentage of endemic fauna and flora.

The Convention on Biological Diversity, which Sri Lanka and the vast majority of the nations of the world have ratified, has as two of its three objectives: (a) the conservation of biological diversity and (b) the fair and equitable sharing of the benefits arising out of the utilization of genetic resources.

In regard to the provision for providing access to genetic resources and sharing of benefits, the Convention on Biological Diversity, recognizing that States have sovereign rights over their biological resources (Art. 5), sets out inter alia that:

(a) Each State shall endeavour to create conditions to facilitate access to genetic resources for environmentally sound uses by other States; and access where granted shall be on mutually agreed terms (Art. 15,2 & 4)

(b) Access to genetic resources shall be subject to prior informed consent of the Contracting Party providing such resources, unless otherwise determined by that Party (Art. 15, 5)

(c) Each Contracting Party shall endeavour to develop and carry out scientific research based on genetic resources provided by other contracting parties, with the full participation of, and where possible in, such Contracting Parties (Art. 15, 6)

(d) Each Contracting Party shall take legislative, administrative or policy measures, as appropriate, with the aim of sharing in a fair and equitable way the results of research and development and the benefits arising from the commercial and other utilization of genetic resources with the Contracting Party providing such resources; such sharing shall be on mutually agreed terms (Art. 15, 7)

(e) Each Contracting Party shall take legislative, administrative or policy measures, as appropriate, with the aim that Contracting Parties, in particular those that are developing countries, which provide genetic resources are provided access to and transfer of technology which makes use of those resources, on mutually agreed terms (Art. 16, 3)

The Ministry in charge of the subject of environment holds the national responsibility for ensuring that the provisions of the Convention on Biological Diversity are adhered to by Sri Lanka as a Party to the Convention.

USE OF TERMS

Research on biological diversity means research on the variability among living organisms as well as research on any of the components of biological diversity, which components shall include any active or dormant stage or life form, or any genetic material thereof, of an entity characterized as living, including plants, bacteria, algae, fungi, phytoplasmas, mycoplasmas, mycoplasma-like entities, protozoa, vertebrate and invertebrate fauna, as well as entities such as viruses, viroids, plasmids, phages, or any living entity related thereto whether natural or modified, as well as metabolites and other extracts of organisms to be used for research and development purposes.

Genetic material means any material of plant, animal, microbial or other origin containing functional units of heredity.

CODE OF ETHICS

Any person or institution (hereinafter referred to as the researcher) engaged in or proposing to engage in research on the biological diversity of Sri Lanka that will involve the transfer out of the country of genetic material or metabolites and other extracts of organisms shall conform to the following requirements:

(1) Research on the biological diversity of Sri Lanka shall, as far as possible, be carried out in Sri Lanka, and by Sri Lankans or with the active participation of Sri Lankans.

(2) The researcher shall inform the Biodiversity Secretariat of the Ministry in charge of the subject of environment of the nature of the proposed research, and specifically (a) whether foreign nationals or foreign institutions will be involved and if so the nature and extent of such involvement, and (b) full details of the genetic material or metabolites or other extracts of organisms that will be sent out of the country. In either case the purpose must be disclosed fully; failure to do so will be tantamount to a breach of this code.

(3) Having regard to the facts as stated by the researcher, if the Biodiversity Secretariat is of the view that the research may give rise to discoveries leading to the development of commercial products or processes, an agreement in a form approved by the Ministry in charge of the subject of environment acting on the advice of the National Science Foundation and any other government institution shall be signed by the party abroad; such agreement shall inter alia embody clauses, as appropriate, for ensuring that Sri Lanka receives an equitable share of the benefits from the proposed research and development.

(4) If the Biodiversity Secretariat is of the view that the research would not give rise to discoveries leading to the development of commercial products or processes, the Biodiversity Secretariat shall inform the researcher that no agreement in the form specified in Section 3 need be signed.

(5) If, in the course of the research work, there are changes in the research protocol (from that reported earlier) or in the scope of foreign collaboration, details of such changes shall forthwith be reported to the Biodiversity Secretariat for a fresh determination of whether an agreement in terms of Section 3 has to be signed, or, if an agreement has already been signed, whether any amendments to the agreement would have to be made.

(6) This Code does not obviate the requirements under existing laws, rules and regulations, of the researcher obtaining the approval of the appropriate institutions for carrying out the proposed research; using any particular site; collecting biological material; or exporting genetic material, metabolites or other extracts of organisms.

(7) Notwithstanding the provisions of Articles 3,4 and 5 of this Code, in cases where foreign nationals and/or institutions are involved in research on biodiversity, the collaborating Sri Lankan researcher and/or the institution to which he is attached shall, where considered appropriate by the Ministry, through an agreement, exchange of letters, or other suitable instrument, with regard to the sharing of information, publication of results, lodging of samples and other relevant matters, ensure that Sri Lanka shares equitably in the results of the research.

(8) In the event of a breach of the provisions of this Code, the Ministry and/or any other government organization concerned reserves the right to cause a cessation activities and to “blacklist” the researcher concerned.

Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources (2004) Code of Ethics for Research on Biological Diversity involving Access to Genetic Resources, Biodiversity Secretariat, Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources, 6 pp. (ISBN 955-9120-30-1)
For details contact Mr. Gamini Gamage, Director, Biodiversity Secretariat, Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources, Battaramulla, Sri Lanka

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