[RIO DE JANEIRO] The Brazilian Institute for the Environment and Natural Resources (IBAMA) is seeking input — especially from scientists — on its proposed changes to laws governing the way Brazil's biodiversity is used for research and education.
The changes represent the latest in a series of efforts to simplify the bureaucracy that Brazilian researchers must deal with.
To collect comments on the proposals, the institute, which is part of the Ministry of Environment, launched a month-long consultation on 9 March.
The changes would unite under a single piece of legislation all regulations covering research in nature reserves and the collection of biological specimens from anywhere in Brazil.
They would also make it easier for researchers at museums, botanical gardens and universities to exchange biological specimens with institutions in Brazil and abroad.
IBAMA's proposals are intended to remove bureaucracy created by 'anti-biopiracy' laws introduced in 2001 to combat the unauthorised removal from Brazil of biological resources with potential commercial value.
Brazilian scientists claimed the 2001 rules hindered research on biodiversity by creating complex and time consuming procedures for those applying for research permits (see Brazil's biopiracy laws 'are stifling research').
"One of our masters students has been waiting for nearly two years for government permission to collect samples of plants that she is studying," says Ruy José Válka, curator of the herbarium of the National Museum, based at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro.
Válka told SciDev.Net that the herbarium, which houses more than half a million specimens of Brazilian plants, has had to virtually cease research collaborations with foreign institutions because of the current laws.