The landscape for access and benefit sharing of genetic resources

Last month the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity posted a notification regarding the communication of a proposed Protocol pursuant to Article 28 paragraph 3 of the Convention on Biological Diversity.  The notification is available on the Secretariat’s web site at: http://cdn.www.cbd.int/doc/notifications/2010/ntf-2010-071-abs-en.pdf

Now, what does this all mean? I asked Peter Munyi, a lawyer and consultant to CAS-IP.  He told me:

“…the expectation is that the protocol will, if adopted,  provide an internationally recognized landscape for access and benefit sharing of genetic resources. While  this  protocol is also seen as  having potential to spur technology transfer from the north to the south, and to stem biopriracy,  the devil is in the detail. The proposed text on scope  (article 3) is wide and non-exclusive. It’s therefore proposed to have all genetic resources  falling within the ambit of the protocol. This includes plant genetic resources that are the subject of the ITPGRFA, as well as others  such as animal GRs, forest GRs and microbials, that have been the subject of discussions with the FAO Commission on Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture.”

So, until now discussions are continuing about how the sectorial approach will fit in with the proposed protocol (in particular for our interest area, PGRFA).  I was pointed in the direction of a pertinent paper entitled “International Agreements and Processes Affecting an International Regime on Access and Benefit Sharing under the Convention on Biological Diversity“, (Thanks Isabel).  The document is intended as:

“… a contribution to the ongoing negotiations of an international regime on access and benefit sharing (ABS) under the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). It aims at clarifying the main interfaces with other international agreements and processes relevant for ABS, in view of the challenges of ensuring consistency with these established frameworks. Furthermore, it provides information of importance for identifying the scope of an international ABS regime. And finally, it seeks to contribute to the discussion of the usefulness and possible design of a sectoral approach to ABS.”

See specifically the first section of the report “Interface with the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture” for implications a new international regime for access and benefit sharing could have on materials in the multi-lateral system.

Should be some further clarity after the next session in the Autumn.

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