The new rules involve a fundamental shift in how companies can access genetic resources and associated traditional knowledge in Brazil, as well as how resulting benefits are shared.
The new law (7.735/2014) was signed by President Dilma Rousseff at an official ceremony and establishes the procedures that companies and other organizations will need to follow to work with Brazilian biodiversity; after old regulations were criticised for being too ‘complex and bureaucratic’.
President Rousseff described the new law as balancing legal certainty with fair and equitable benefit sharing, and she said it will guarantee that companies can “without conflict, troubles or disputes” use the genetic heritage and associated traditional knowledge in Brazil.
The new rules have not been received completely positively though as indigenous peoples and local communities have criticised it for not sufficiently protecting their rights and interests.
Brazil holds one of the richest biodiversities in the world and has long been a source of innovation and inspiration for natural ingredients used in cosmetics products.
Brazil is quickly becoming a key market for natural products, with a population of over 200 million and a soaring awareness of biodiversity; and many companies already have R&D centres there that are actively looking to discover new ingredients and applications for its flora.
According to the Union for Ethical BioTrade (UEBT), the new legal framework in Brazil will have significant implications for suppliers, laboratories, manufacturers and brands working with Brazilian biodiversity.
With the new laws, authorization to access biodiversity for research and development, which until now was granted by a national council, will no longer be required.
Companies will now only have to register on an online database. For benefit sharing, which was previously negotiated for each individual case, this will now fall on the final product manufacturer, and take place primarily through a national trust fund.