On the occasion of the International Congress for Culture Collections (ICCC 8), August 24-29 1996, Veldhoven, The Netherlands, on the role of microbial resource centres for improving the qua1ity of 1ife, attended by 280 scientists from 43 countries, delegates agreed the following:

1.Microorganisms conserved in the world's culture collections constitute the natural resources for research and social and economic development in the following key areas

  • Human and animal health
  • Agriculture and food
  • Energy and chemistry
  • Environment

Microorganisms are the invisible guardians of the earth on which the maintenance of the biosphere ultimately depends. It follows that microbial resource centres are necessary partners in the implementation of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD).

Therefore the WFCC urges a long-term commitment by governments to support the conservation of all microbial biodiversity for scientific progress and the future of mankind, and the inclusion of microbiological expertise in the development of environmental policies. Delegates of ICCC 8 resolve that these matters be urgently addressed in order that the major objectives of the CBD can be implemented.

2.Taxonomy is the foundation on which the bricks of biological science are laid. The present dearth of taxonomic expertise is greatly hindering the understanding and monitoring of environmental change, the health care and feeding of the world's populations, and the discovery of untapped resources for exploitation. Accordingly, delegates urge the reversal of the current trend and the reinstatement of microbial taxonomy as a major discipline, widely taught and practised throughout the world.

3.While recognising the fundamental importance of health and safety issues with regard to the transboundary movement of microorganisms, the delegates urge that consideration be paid by regulatory authorities to the essential need for the exchange of microorganisms for scientific and development purposes. To facilitate this process the harmonisation of transport regulations, hazard classificatian and nomenclature, is of paramount importance.