Research Involving Bioprospecting
The National Environmental Management: Biodiversity Act 10 of 2004 (Biodiversity Act) and associated regulations - Bioprospecting, Access and Benefit-Sharing Regulations, 2008 – place a number of obligations on all those conducting research on South Africa’s indigenous biological resources (including plants and microorganisms).The Act requires permits to be obtained for all bioprospecting involving any indigenous biological resources, and for the export of any indigenous biological resource to be used for bioprospecting or any other kind of research. Permit applications include a requirement for material transfer and benefit sharing agreements to be concluded with stakeholders providing access to the materials and/or stakeholders whose indigenous knowledge is being used in the research. The Act applies to all research on indigenous biological resources. If the research is still early stage and the commercialization phase has not yet begun, then a permit is not required; however, the Minister of Environmental Affairs and Tourism must be notified about the research, and the researchers are required to sign a prescribed commitment to comply with the requirements at the commercialization stage.
All MRC researchers conducting research on indigenous biological resources are encouraged to contact the IC for assistance and advice on complying with the requirements of the Biodiversity Act.