What’s new with the Nagoya Protocol?

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24.03.2016 -

One of the overarching goals of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) is the fair distribution of advantages that arise from the utilisation of genetic resources.

One of the overarching goals of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) is the fair distribution of advantages that arise from the utilisation of genetic resources. To achieve this, the Tenth Conference of Parties (COP 10) Meeting adopted the Nagoya Protocol that entered into force after the ratification of 50 countries and the European Union on the 12th October, 2014.

The protocol defines rules on the “Access to Genetic Resources and the Fair and Equitable Sharing of Benefits Arising from their Utilization”. One reason for its necessity is that the agricultural biodiversity – and hence genetic biodiversity – is higher in developing countries than in industrialised countries. In the past, genetic resources from developing countries were often used and patents developed without seeking the prior approval of these countries and without an equitable distribution of benefits. The protocol has been introduced to ensure that the countries in which the genetic resources are found also profit from their commercialisation. Additionally, it is hoped that the importance in conserving biodiversity may rise with the economic value attached to it. Read PharmaSea`s article to find out how these legal frameworks impact marine scientific research.

Recently, a French institute was accused of biopiracy. The French Institute for Development Research (IRD) and local officials in French Guiana are currently in dispute over research conducted in 2005 and a patent that was granted ten years later for a new compound from the plant Quassia amara (a small tree with bright red flowers native to South and Central America). IRD has been criticised for patenting the drug without acknowledging the contribution of local Guianan communities, who first drew the scientists’ attention towards examining Quassia amara. In an official statement, IRD agreed to share economic and scientific benefits equally, to be more transparent about the further drug development and to ensure that the people in Guiana will have access to the drug at a fair price. This case comes at a time when France is in the process of implementing the Nagoya Protocol. The Protocol can help to clarify the legal situation and once more raise awareness for an equitable benefit sharing of biodiversity resources.

In the beginning of 2016, 72 parties had ratified the Nagoya Protocol. The goal is to have reached 100 ratifications at the second Meeting of the Parties to the Nagoya Protocol in Mexico in December.