Concerns over guidance on sharing genetic resources

CIPA has for many years been concerned at the dangers to research and innovation in the UK posed by unintended consequences of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and Nagoya Protocol (on Access to Genetic Resources and the Fair and Equitable Sharing of Benefits Arising from their Utilization) to the CBD. That concern continues given the current and possible extension of the Access Benefit-Sharing (ABS) Guidelines.

In considering the ABS Guidelines, CIPA has not attempted to go into the details of all the areas of concern. First, we consider that the current rules are over-prescriptive and overly restrictive and basically impractical. So much so that they are likely to put people off attempting to do work on genetic material that potentially falls within the scope of the CBD and Nagoya.  Secondly the details are so voluminous that to deal with them all would also be impractical.

The US is not bound by the CBD or Nagoya, so any restrictions in the UK under them is likely to lead to work leaving the UK and going to the US (or any other country that is not a Party). And a product developed in the US can subsequently be sold worldwide without being caught by the CBD or Nagoya.

We also comment on Digital Sequence Information (DSI) as we do not believe that DSI is within the scope of the CBD or Nagoya. We does not believe that DSI should be brought within the scope of either by a revision to the CBD and Nagoya or by a new, separate instrument.

Similarly, CIPA believes that the principles of the CBD and Nagoya should not be extended more widely in the scope of materials included or the geographic areas encompassed, at least until the current system is shown to be working smoothly and efficiently, for fear that vital research and innovation be delayed or prevented.

An Appendix sets out some more general concerns with the CBD and Nagoya.

Download the full response below.

Date Published: 1 June 2021

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