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II - Historical background

International environment

In 1999, the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) initiated an international debate concerning the necessary conditions for the maintenance of collections. 

The following recommendations were then issued: 

• States should support the creation of Biological Research Centers (BRCs) ;

• An international network of BRCs should be created, and a ethical charter for the functioning of BRCs drawn up ;

• The existence of BRCs should be taken into account when co-ordinating laws and regulations.
A working group was set up. This working group was responsible for writing guidelines for the management of BRCs, with the following purposes: 

• To formulate a set of rational principles governing the running of BRCs ;

• To coordinate the various collections by means of an international accreditation system.

A document entitled “Guidance for the operation of biological resource centres”  (BRCs) is currently used for the drafting of an AFNOR standard which will be the reference quality frame for the CRB at the national level.

National environment

In February 2001, the French Research and New Technologies Minister set up a Biological Resources Consultative Committee (the CCRB), with representatives from 15 French institutions including "Institut Pasteur". The purposes of this committee were as follows: 

• To set up a national network of BRCs ;

• To ensure a uniform high quality of BRCs ;

• To follow the scientific and valorisation projects of BRCs ;

• To write an ethical charter for the running of BRCs ;

• To make recommendations concerning regulatory and ethical matters.

On December 5th 2001, the Board of the "Institut Pasteur" decided to support a project to create a Biological Resources Centre for the collection of biological materials at the Pasteur Institute (CRBIP). This project obtained external funding from the French Ministry of Research. 

The initial aims of this project were as follows: 

• To produce an inventory of the collections at the "Institut Pasteur" and encourage them to participate in the project ;

• To develop a charter for the integration of the collections into the BRC of the "Institut Pasteur" (CRBIP) ;

• To develop a common database computer program ;

• To create a specific web site ;

• To Set up a system to distribute strains according to the regulations in force.

The "Collection de l’Institut Pasteur" (CIP) and the Fungal Collection (UMIP) agreed to take part in this project from its creation.