[Taxacom] another ebay auction of naming rights

John Grehan calabar.john at gmail.com
Wed Oct 21 13:58:28 CDT 2015

This appears to be an important consideration where a gain by some may
result in a loss to many. Taxonomy seems to be in a no-win situation when
it comes to funding.

John Grehan

On Wed, Oct 21, 2015 at 2:32 PM, Doug Yanega <dyanega at ucr.edu> wrote:

> This topic has come up for discussion today among the ICZN Commissioners,
> and a few who are not on Taxacom had some significant comments. Philippe
> Bouchet first raised the following point, and Sven Kullander has let me
> forward this follow-up from him:
> "Especially in the light of the Nagoya Protocol on ABS, the future of
> taxonomy largely depends on it being considered non-commercial. The sale of
> nomenclatural acts is certainly not non-commercial, and may further
> complicate negotiations for international transfer of samples, field work,
> and the reputation of taxonomists as providing service for the Common Good.
> (The US has not signed the ABS protocol, but will most likely respect it.)"
> The point he mentions (that Philippe first raised) is one that has not
> been previously emphasized here; if it becomes widely perceived that
> taxonomy is a commercial enterprise (even if not for profit, it IS still
> commercial as most people define it), the entire taxonomic community may
> suffer from the backlash, even if the backlash is not deserved. But we are
> not really in a position to divorce ourselves from it, either, even if
> individual institutions do not engage in the practice of auctions. After
> all, if Museum X loans specimens to Museum Y, and Museum Y runs an auction
> using some of those specimens, then Museum X has been involved in an act of
> commerce. No institution-based researcher collecting specimens can
> guarantee that none of their specimens will ever be used for such purposes.
> Every package of specimens I mail has a big label on it saying "NO
> COMMERCIAL VALUE" - but that ceases to be true, at least in some people's
> view, I'm sure, if they are used as the basis for an auction. While WE
> might see a distinction, or nuance, public perception counts for a LOT, and
> public perception is easily swayed and frequently overzealous; as bad as
> the situation with the Moustached Kingfisher specimen is, imagine how much
> worse the PR would be if that was a new species, and the specimen was
> associated with a name auction.
> This is a significant argument opposing the use of auctions as a
> fund-raising tool, and it is hard to see a good way to counteract this,
> because it is rather fundamental in that we ask for all sorts of legal
> provisions that distinguish academia from commerce, and this does indeed
> undermine that distinction.
> Sincerely,
> --
> Doug Yanega      Dept. of Entomology       Entomology Research Museum
> Univ. of California, Riverside, CA 92521-0314     skype: dyanega
> phone: (951) 827-4315 (disclaimer: opinions are mine, not UCR's)
>              http://cache.ucr.edu/~heraty/yanega.html
>   "There are some enterprises in which a careful disorderliness
>         is the true method" - Herman Melville, Moby Dick, Chap. 82
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