Restrictions upon Ecological Research due to the Ecological Law

State of Affairs and its Valuation




09/2004 − 08/2007


The German Federal Ministry for Education and Research finances a research project that is called 'Sustainability and Law − Liberty of Research and Ecological Law'. This project is elaborated by the Department of Ecological and Planning Law of the 'Centre for Environmental Research' in co-operation with the 'Max Planck institute for Comparative Public Law and International Law' in Heidelberg.

One part of the project at hand deals with the discourse concerning freedom for sciences, ecological research and regulations of ecology. Restrictions made by the ecological law affecting the plans for ecological research and the development of ecological technologies will be recorded and valuated under the title 'Restrictions for Ecological Research due to the Ecological Law − State of Affairs and its Valuation'. In this context, the research of gene technology has not been included since this field has already been relatively well-explored in view of the relevant implications for freedom in research.

Ecological research becomes diversely affected by the demands of the present law when it leaves the theoretical environment of the laboratory and becomes a practical matter. According to these facts, ecological law has also got standards which have to be adhered to, for instance in the testing new redevelopment techniques. Because law and practice of these demands have not been sufficiently investigated, this shall be done within the project. Two main aims are fixed in the project plan: On the one hand, special regulations within the present ecological law shall be explored as far as research and testing activities are concerned, including related fields of law (for instance law of product security). To sum it up, there shall be advancements made regarding the clarification of legal privileges in research and testing. On the other hand, it shall be evaluated to what extent regulations of ecological law are practicable in relation to the basic law of freedom in sciences and research.

The first aim described will be reached by means of ordinary analysis, while empirical investigations are nessessary for the second aim. In this case, it seems to be the most effective way to co-operate with institutions for ecological research (for instance with institutions of the Helmholtz Association of National Research Centres), by interviewing research scientists working there and − as far as possible − to study their records. According to empirical studies, proper material for more intensive case studies shall be integrated.