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withholding of avian flu samples. In 2011, the WHO adopted a framework govern-
ing virus sharing which ensures that virus sample donors and their communities
should receive at least some benefits in return for their contribution to science. The
Pandemic Influenza Preparedness (or PIP) Framework (World Health Assembly
2011 ) aims to protect global public health and ensure benefit sharing, and is a first
step towards a more just situation in the field of international virus exchange. It is
also worth noting that the Nagoya Protocol refers to human pathogens such as influ-
enza viruses and thereby combines questions of access to human and non-human
genetic resources. This indicates that a more inclusive approach to access and
benefit sharing for genetic resources may be possible in the medium term .
10.6.1 Expanding the scope of the CBD
In Chap. 8 , a group of influential authors suggest expanding the scope of the CBD to
include human biological resources. They give four reasons for this recommendation:
1. In order to foster an inclusive, legally predictable approach to all biological
resources, these should come under one umbrella regulation, namely the CBD.
2. There is no legally binding international instrument that covers human biologi-
cal resources. Instead of developing a new regime, it would be better to extend
an already existing regime, using experience and established mechanisms.
3. In the absence of a legal instrument, countries are taking unilateral steps to
protect human biological resources, with potentially grave consequences for
international collaboration. For instance, the Indian Ministry of Health has
issued guidelines restricting the transfer of biological material for collabora-
tive research, and the Chinese Human Genetic Resources Management Office
has recently revised China's policy regulating the export and import of human
genetic material across Chinese borders. As more countries establish their own
national regulations, the difficulties facing global research collaboration involv-
ing human genetic resources will increase exponentially.
4. More and more, science is using a mixture of resources to develop innovations. As
a result, it becomes increasingly difficult to separate animal, plant and micro-organ-
isms from human biological resources to pursue separate benefit-sharing agendas.
The only pragmatic solution is to cover all such resources under one framework.
As noted earlier, the benefit-sharing principle is a tool to achieve justice in a
specific context; it is not desirable in and of itself. The CBD was adopted because
the use of biological resources was being pursued unsustainably - first come,
first served - rather than for the greater benefit of humankind. The CBD was one
attempt to stem the tide of Northern exploitation of Southern resources. It may yet
be necessary to do the same for human biological resources, and it remains to be
seen whether the Nagoya Protocol will yield significant success stories in benefit
sharing. Meanwhile, alternative approaches can be developed to benefit sharing for
human biological resources. What could such alternative approaches be?
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