Bioprospecting deal OK

On April 17, Judge Royce Lamberth for the US District Court for the District of Columbia ruled that a bioprospecting agreement between Diversa (San Diego, CA) and Yellowstone National Park was “proper” and “does not conflict with the conservation mandate [of the park].” He dismissed the legal challenge brought by several public interest groups, which claimed that the agreement violated the Federal Technology Transfer Act and the intent of the National Park Service (NPS) Organic Act for Technology Assessment (Nat. Biotechnol. 17, 411). According to John Varley, director of Yellowstone's Center for Resources, the deal with Diversa is the first of its kind in the US in that the park will be able to share in the benefits of the research. Under the agreement, Diversa would study the enzymes from microorganisms that live in the extreme environments of Yellowstone's hot springs in return for paying the park an annual fee, supplying expertise in areas such as gene sequencing, and sharing profits from resulting products. The project cannot resume, however, until the NPS completes an environmental impact assessment study, which Varley estimates will take up to a year and a half to complete.

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Grisham, J. Bioprospecting deal OK. Nat Biotechnol 18, 583 (2000).

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