Tag Archives: ABS

Funding opportunities for post-doc and PhD fellowships in various IP policy areas

I was sent this earlier today, and thought it might be of interest to readers.  A notice for post-doc and PhD fellowship at BIOGOV research unit Universite catholique de Louvain, Belgium.

“funding opportunities for post-docs and PhD Fellowships in the policy areas of global commons and global public goods, global governance, science and technology policy and international law, including intellectual property and access and benefit sharing…”

Please note, the deadline for application is: 15 September 2011.

You can download the full announcement here.  Thanks to the Bioversity Capacity Development Unit for circulating this notice.  This, and similar announcements have also been posted on the Bioversity International website.

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.

Update on the CBD

IPWatch has reported on the meeting that industry representatives had last week in Geneva to discuss the legally binding regime that the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) intends to create for the access and benefit sharing (“ABS”) of national genetic resources and traditional knowledge.  Presumably this discussion was sparked by the Montreal meeting of 2-15 November (see our blog posted on 25 November).  The industry claimed that:

“A legally-binding international system on ABS may harm business interests and also fail to reach its objectives of protecting and preserving biodiversity. “

Further, Esther Schmitt, unit head of natural products at Swiss biotechnology company Novartis added:

“Successful collaboration between local communities and biotechnology companies requires legal certainty, exclusivity and  transparency and prior informed consent.”

I agree with Ms. Schmitt that the international community needs legal certainty, and IPWatch quotes Alan Oxley, chairman of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Centre at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology University in Australia:

“Part of the difficulty in negotiation of the regime is that there is “no common agreement on what the problem is…There is “no legally-instructive definition of the key terms,” nor an agreement on the “means by which commitments are to be delivered”.”

And unless economic activities are encouraged, developing countries will not have real benefits to enjoy.

However, a question comes to mind: “whose business interests and whose biodiversity”?  It seems clear that the industry does not want to be legally bound to national rules as to ways of accessing and using the genetic resources of developing countries.  How many companies have really contributed towards the Secretary Fund of the ITPGRFA?  And how many companies complain about the requirement to compensate the international community for depriving it of its genetic resources (see the payment mechanisms of the SMTA, art. 6 and 7)?

Post written by Francesca Re Manning, consultant to CAS-IP

UPDATE from Paris. 7th meeting of the ad hoc open-ended working group on access and benefit-sharing


We blogged some pre-meeting observations earlier this week (see lead link). Today Peter Munyi, Chief Legal Officer at ICIPE and consultant to CAS-IP sent the following update, and his observations:

“The negotiations towards an international regime on access and benefit sharing resumed officially on 2nd April at UNESCO, Paris.  The roadmap towards the regime is clear as outlined in CBD COP 9 in 2008.  The subject matter for negotiations during the next 7 days is the objective and scope of the international regime, as well as the main elements (benefit sharing, access and compliance). 

With regard to objective and scope of the international regime it is clear that pursuant to the programme of work laid out by CBD COP Decision IX/12, at the end of the next 7 days, the negotiators must come up with at least a finalized draft operative text.  If this does not happen, the earliest that negotiations on these two issues will be revisited will be in March 2010 during Working Group 9 or October 2010 in COP 10.  For compliance, the expectation is that parties will at least develop an advanced draft operative text that can be subjected to further negotiations in Working Group 8 in November 2009. 

There are a number of sticking issues in these negotiations.  The status of pre-CBD collections is one and whether they should be included in the scope of the regime.  Intellectual properties particularly in the context of benefit sharing, and also as an important check point in tracking material as well as disclosure of origin is another.  The intellectual property issue has trade implications, and how an understanding is reached towards the different viewpoints held by regions should be something to pay attention to as it may have implications on the dynamics of managing intellectual property in the future.  There are other sticking issues relating to the definition and understanding of derivatives; whether to include human genetic resources; whether to include pathogens, for example those subject to discussions at the World Health Organization relating to influenza flu viruses and, the relationship an international regime will have with other treaties of relevance.

For the CG centres, the debate and negotiations are important.  Genetic resources are the subject matter of their work.  How they will be accessed and shared in future is in the hands of the negotiators who obviously, do not include the CG Centres.  Since the negotiations must come to an end in COP 10 in October 2010, in less than 18 months therefore, there will be multilateral instrument that will regulate and facilitate access to genetic resources and benefit sharing.”

Observations ahead of the 7th meeting of the ad hoc open-ended working group on access and benefit-sharing


The latest CBD meeting on Access & Benefit Sharing is due to start this week. The lead link is to the official site with the agenda and other participant materials. Peter Munyi, Chief Legal Officer at ICIPE  and consultant to CAS-IP, is in Paris for the meeting and made the following reflections on the process so far:

“Right now, it’s not clear the nature of the instrument that will be adopted … however, there’s a lot of pressure and goodwill to see the negotiations succeed. … The larger question is whether the CG Centre’s current engagement on these issues, through a ‘centralist’ approach is sufficient. The current discussions are dealing with non-PGRFA, but also with PGRFA utilized not in accordance with the ITPGRFA. It’s not clear whether a sectoral approach will be adopted in the end, and I believe it’s necessary for centres to be more active not only in the current ABS negotiations but also in the work of the FAO Commission on Genetic Resources.”

TK and ABS – the case of “Aarogyapacha” in India


This item was listed on this week’s Managing Intellectual Property midweek news round up. Thanks to Irina Curca for this blog post!

Access and Benefit sharing (ABS) is a  fundamental concept for those involved in the protection of the traditional knowledge (TK).  One of the main legislative  documents  in the TK field is the Biological Diversity Act 2002  which wants to

“achieve the objective of equity in sharing benefits from such use of resources. Its key provisions include measures for sharing of benefits from the use of biodiversity, including transfer of technology, monetary returns, joint Research & Development, joint IPR ownership, etc.; provisions for local communities to have a say in the use of their resources and knowledge, and to charge fees for this and protection of indigenous or traditional knowledge, through appropriate laws or other measures such as registration of such knowledge.” 

Even though the Biological Diversity Act addresses a number of fundamental TK issues, more needs to be done, as sometimes apparently good projects seem not to come to a happy end.