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17 April 2014 12:48 pm ,
Vol. 344 ,
- 17 April 2014 12:48 pm , Vol. 344 , #6181
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Bioprospecting: Delayed ... or Dead?
30 March 1999 7:00 pm
A federal judge has ruled that the National Park Service must complete an environmental review before it can move ahead with a controversial bioprospecting contract. Government analysts say the ruling is a temporary setback for the precedent-setting deal, which allows Diversa, a San Diego biotechnology firm, to harvest plants and microbes from the park's hot springs in exchange for a $175,000 payment and royalties on any products it develops (Science, 13 March 1998, p. 1624). But one plaintiff's attorney believes the decision--handed down last week by Judge Royce Lamberth of the U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C.--is a death knell for any arrangement of this kind because Lamberth cast doubt on the government's claim that parks are "outdoor laboratories" available for commercial research. A coalition of nonprofits will soon be back in court seeking to ban such deals outright, promises Andrew Kimbrell of the Washington-based International Center for Technology Assessment. Unless Congress changes the law, he asserts, federal parks should remain off limits to profit-driven bioprospectors.