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Free Content Apportionment of institutional votes for the Nomenclature Section: A rebuttal to Smith & al.

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Smith & al. (2010) have suggested that the apportionment of institutional votes for the Nomenclature Section of the International Botanical Congress based upon taxonomic activity represents a “colonial legacy” that disadvantages developing nations, and that institutional votes should instead be distributed based at least in part upon a country's human population and the size of its flora. While we agree that increasing participation by developing-country taxonomists is an important goal, we believe that Smith & al. fail to support their claim that the current practice of plant nomenclature is harmful to developing nations. No evidence has been offered of regional biases regarding proposals to change the wording of the Code, which represent the vast majority of the votes taken at any Nomenclature Section, nor has the current process of apportionment of institutional votes been shown to be biased. The reform measures proposed by Smith & al. would, as we show, introduce explicit discrimination based on nationality into the International code of botanical nomenclature, undermining the international cooperation among taxonomists that is necessary for the smooth functioning of a universally accepted system of nomenclature. Rather than making hasty and perhaps harmful changes to the current means of voting, we suggest that the international taxonomic community should consider carefully what measures will best facilitate participation without creating new sources of injustice.

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Keywords: ACACIA; DEVELOPING NATIONS; INSTITUTIONS; INTERNATIONAL BOTANICAL CONGRESS; INTERNATIONAL CODE OF BOTANICAL NOMENCLATURE; VOTING

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2010-10-01

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