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Cablegate: Negotiations On Access to Genetic Resources and Benefit

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

051059Z Jul 05

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 COLOMBO 001157

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: EAGR EAID SENV TBIO CE ECONOMICS
SUBJECT: NEGOTIATIONS ON ACCESS TO GENETIC RESOURCES AND BENEFIT
SHARING

REF: SECSTATE 269625

Following are Sri Lanka's regulations governing access to
genetic resources and benefit sharing as per reftel request.

1. Legislation and regulation of research and collection of
biological resources:

Sri Lanka does not have a unified set of laws that cover all
aspects of research and specimen collection on biological and
genetic resources. Several articles and provisions of
legislation address research aspects including specimen
collection of biological and genetic resources. These include
the following: Fauna and Flora Protection Ordinance, Forest
Ordinance, Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Act, National
Heritage & Wilderness Act, National Aquatic Research Agency Act
and Acts of all research institutes such as the Coconut Research
Institute (CRI), the Tea Research Institute (TRI), the Rice
Research & Development Institute (RRDI), and the Rubber Research
Institute (RRI).

Relevant institutions issue permits for all aspects related to
research including collection of biological specimens. This is
carried out at national and state levels. Research proposals
must be submitted to the relevant institution, at which time the
research committee of that institute will evaluate the proposal.
In Sri Lanka, the Department of Forest and Department of
Wildlife manage protected areas. To conduct research activities
and collect specimens in designated protected forests and
wildlife parks, researchers (local or foreign) must obtain
permits from these institutes. Research in fisheries and aquatic
resources require prior approval from the Fisheries & Aquatic
Resources Agency prior to collection of specimens.

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The following government agencies are responsible for issuing
research/collection permits for their respective
biological/genetic resources:
- Wild Fauna and Flora: Department of Wildlife
Conservation(DWLC)
- Domesticated Animals: Department of Animal Production &
Health (DAPH)
- Forest products & biological resources of forest reserves:
Department of Forest Conservation
- Aquatic Resources: Department of Fisheries & Aquatic
Resources (with concurrent permission from DWLC)
- Agricultural Crops: Relevant Research Institute (CRI,TRI,
RRDI, RRI)

Terms and conditions addressing the concept of Mutually Agreed
Terms (MAT) are formulated by respective research committees and
agencies under the respective laws and included in research
application guidelines.

2. Movement of Biological Specimens

In general, all exports of biological resources especially for
research are regulated under the Customs Ordinance which provide
provision to apply above mentioned Acts for such exports.
Permits can be obtained from the above relevant authorities,
unless specimens are not prohibited according to respective
Acts. The Plant Protection Act and Animal Disease Act have
provisions on phyto- or zoo-sanitary requirements needed for
movement of species and products.

3. Laws and Procedures for Negotiating Mutually Agreed Terms for
access to/use of Genetic Resources

Collection and export of samples for research requires a
memorandum of understanding with the custodial institute of the
biological/genetic resource and local counterpart of the
research institute. Under present legislation MAT are done with
the approval given by the relevant research institution.
However, all these aspects have been incorporated into an Act,
which is in draft form, on access to genetic resources and fair
and equitable sharing of benefits. Use of resources (commercial
or non-commercial) will be evaluated prior to granting
permission. Terms & Conditions for in-country and non-
commercial use is basic and uncomplicated, according to the
Director of Biodiversity in the Ministry of Environment.

4. Status of Material Transfer Agreements (MAT) and Prior
Informed Consent (PIC) in Sri Lanka

Presently, coordinating of relevant institutes for the
development of MTA and PIC issues are handled by the
biodiversity secretariat of the Ministry of Environment and
Natural Resources on a case by case basis as requested by the
national partner of the collaborative research. Under the
proposed Act on access to genetic resources and fair and
equitable sharing of benefits, the biodiversity secretariat has
been nominated as the coordinating institute.

The respective local counterpart researcher negotiates specific
contracts for providing access to genetic resources with the
approving committee of the relevant government institute. The
biodiversity secretariat makes arrangements to sign MTA's
between local research counterpart and respective government
institute as PIC.

National authorities responsible for receiving financial
benefits arising from biological/genetic resources are
identified in MTA according to the provisions of Acts on
intellectual property rights in Sri Lanka.

A code of ethics for research on biological diversity involving
access to genetic resources has been published by the
biodiversity secretariat of the Ministry of Environment and
provides procedure to negotiate on MAT.
LUNSTEAD

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