Brazil has introduced a new legal framework for biodiversity-based research, development and commercialisation. The new rules represent a shift in the way cosmetics companies can access genetic resources, as the country tries to balance the interests of developers and indigenous populations.
Cosmetic companies wishing to access biodiversity for research and development will no longer require authorisation from a national council. Instead, companies will be able to register using an online database, although any commercial benefits will have to be shared with indigenous communities. Benefits will be shared through a national trust fund, with responsibility for this falling on the final product manufacturer.
President Dilma Rousseff signed the new law, 7.735/2014, at an official ceremony on 20 May. She said the new law would balance legal certainty with fair benefit sharing, saying it will guarantee that companies can use the genetic heritage and associated traditional knowledge in Brazil “without conflict, troubles or disputes”.
The new law replaces a controversial ruling introduced in 2001 which was deemed as too bureaucratic by many, and the change has been welcomed by many companies. The Union for Bio Trade believes the development could have significant implications for suppliers, laboratories, manufacturers and brands working in Brazil. A representative said: “Brazil holds one of the richest biodiversities in the world. It has long been a source of innovation and inspiration for natural ingredients used in food, cosmetics and pharmaceutical products. Yet much remains to be explored: many companies have R&D centres in Brazil that are actively looking to discover new ingredients and applications for its flora.”
However, some indigenous communities in Brazil have criticised the ruling for not sufficiently protecting their interests.
Brazil boasts one of the world’s richest biodiversities in the world and has long been a source of inspiration for natural ingredients used in cosmetics products. The new ruling could further open up this resource for the development of new cosmetic products.