I am catching up on my journal reading, and was shocked to read this in Nature:
“An international collaboration to study insects in the Western Ghats mountains in southern India has been unable to get off the ground because of government concerns over biopiracy…the project has stalled because India’s National Biodiversity Authority (NBA) has denied the Ashoka Trust permission to export the specimens, despite assurances that they would be returned to India after identification. “We have to send the specimens abroad for identification as we do not have the expertise at home,” Dharmarajan says….
Krishnamoorthy Venkataraman, secretary of the NBA, says that the rules aim to fight biopiracy and not to stop basic research….The NBA encourages Indian scientists to send photographs or digital images to collaborators abroad instead of actual specimens, he says.”
That just isn’t going to work. You can’t do advanced taxonomic research with a photo.
I think it’s a sad statement about the level of trust between countries, when they won’t allow specimens to be shared between scientists in this way. :(
Also in this issue of Nature: A well-deserved dope slap to the current head of EPA:
“In a rational world, Johnson would resign in favour of someone who could at least feign an interest in the environment. Alas, it seems that he will probably stay on until January 2009, refusing waivers, fighting lawsuits and further depressing employees’ morale. “