Biology Reference
In-Depth Information
Keywords  Access and beneit sharing • Convention on Biological Diversity • 
Biomedical  technology • Developing  countries • Human  genetic  resources • 
World Health Organization
7.1 Introduction
Even by the most conservative estimates, the global debate on access and benefit
sharing (ABS) for biodiversity has been going on for 20 years. Despite the high
global stakes of this debate and the adoption of the Nagoya Protocol to the
Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) in 2010, there is no clear pathway for its
resolution in sight. ABS is one of the major stumbling blocks in the stalled negotia-
tions on trade-related aspects of intellectual property rights (TRIPs) at the World
Trade Organization (WTO), and its current fluid state internationally is the source
of different, and at times contradictory, approaches at national levels. In the
medium to long term this may adversely affect research and technology transfer
prospects. The absence of clear international guidelines further complicates global
research initiatives as national governments evolve their own ABS frameworks. 1
This situation is frustrating for negotiators, disheartening for non-governmental
organizations (NGOs) and other civil society organizations, and disappointing for
many others involved in the process.
The CBD's Ad Hoc Open-Ended Working Group on Access and Benefit
Sharing concluded its work with the adoption of the Nagoya Protocol on Access to
Genetic Resources and the Fair and Equitable Sharing of Benefits Arising from
their Utilization at the tenth meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the CBD
(COP 10) in Nagoya, Japan, in October 2010. 2 The deliberations of the CBD have
thus far, however, overlooked technological trends in the realms of synthetic biol-
ogy and pharmacogenomics, and these may undermine the relevance of the defini-
tions currently being employed by negotiators for 'biological resources'. One of
the factors that may be responsible for this approach is the continued compartmen-
talization of the CBD and the World Health Organization (WHO), which are inde-
pendently discussing ABS issues with little input from each other. One can
observe some movement towards more collaboration, but it is not enough.
1 Glowka ( 2008 ) calculates that more than 60 countries have established their own ABS regimes.
2 After nearly 20 years of negotiations, 193 governments adopted the 'historic' Nagoya Protocol
as a supplementary agreement to the CBD. It provides a transparent legal framework for the
effective implementation of one of the three objectives of the CBD: the fair and equitable shar-
ing of benefits arising out of the utilization of genetic resources. The instrument outlines legally
binding international rules for sharing benefits from resources (including traditional knowledge)
used in food, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics and other products. The protocol was open for signa-
ture at the United Nations Headquarters in New York from 2 February 2011 until 1 February
2012 and will enter into force on the 90th day after the date of deposit of the 50th instrument of
ratification, acceptance, approval or accession (CBD 2010 , see also Chap. 3 ).
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