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GlobalBarcoders welcome new rulesfor shipping specimens

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‘Dangerous goods’ classification removed

FragileThe DNA barcoding community is welcoming the news that natural history specimens shipped via commercial air will no longer be classified as “dangerous goods.”

In a press release, the Natural Science Collections Alliance said that the new policy, issued by the International Air Transport Association (IATA), also removes a requirement for shippers to be formally trained in how to package scientific specimens. Instead the shippers can train themselves.

“This is a major change in the requirements for shipping biological specimens in alcohol, and will reduce the time and expense in such shipments considerably,” said Scott Miller, Deputy Under Secretary for Collections and Interdisciplinary Support at the Smithsonian Institution and vice-chair of iBOL Working Group 2.2 – Museum Life.

“Thus, it is a major step forward for facilitating the movement for specimens for barcoding and taxonomic research, both within countries and between countries, and will be very helpful to building iBOL collaborations.”

These special provisions, listed as A180 in the 52nd edition of the IATA Dangerous Good Manual, came into effect January 1. The new regulations will enable researchers and collections curators to ship specimens more easily and to expand the list of countries where these materials can be sent.

Dr. Andrew Bentley, Ichthyology Collection Manager at the University of Kansas’ Natural History Museum and Biodiversity Research Center, played a central role in representing the collections community to IATA. He said that the major air shipping companies (DHL, FedEx, and UPS) have indicated that they will accept packages that meet the A180 guidelines. FedEx previously barred the shipment of dead animals. The U.S. Postal Service will also exempt the shipment of natural history specimens from its list of dangerous goods shipped domestically.

To qualify for the exemption, specimens must be placed in three layers of heat-sealed bags and contain no more than 30ml of free liquid. Scientific specimens will still not be allowed in carry-on or checked luggage.

Download the new regulations

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