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Global biodiversity research tied up by juridical interpretations of access and benefit sharing

Abstract

The toolbox of instruments regulating access, transfer and use of biological material is currently re-equipped: the Nagoya Protocol was initiated to provide a legal framework to the third objective of the Convention on Biological Diversity – the fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising from the utilisation of genetic resources and associated traditional knowledge (an aspect not discussed here). In the ongoing implementation of the protocol, potentially harmful and far-reaching effects on biological research become evident. Here, we illustrate how vague definitions, lack of legal clarity and coordination, and often restrictive and complex regulations affect the transfer of biological material and associated data. Instead of promoting basic research in conservation and biodiversity, the current situation potentially jeopardises international collaboration, biodiversity research and its applications in monitoring, biocontrol and food safety. We address these challenges and discuss possible options for its practical implementation in the future.

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Abbreviations

ABS:

Access and Benefit Sharing.

BGCI:

Botanical Gardens Conservation International.

BOLD:

Barcode of Life Database.

CBD:

Convention of Biological Diversity.

CETAF:

Consortium of European Taxonomic Facilities.

CITES:

Convention on the International Trade of Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora.

EU:

European Union.

GBIF:

Global Biodiversity Information Facility.

GGBN:

Global Genome Biodiversity Network.

GR:

Genetic Resources.

GTI:

Global Taxonomy Initiative of the CBD.

IPEN:

International Plant Exchange Network.

IPR:

Intellectual Property Rights.

LMMC:

Like-Minded Megadiverse Countries includes 17 states: Bolivia, Brazil, China, Colombia, Costa Rica, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ecuador, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Madagascar, Malaysia, Mexico, Peru, the Philippines, South Africa and Venezuela.

MAT:

Mutually Agreed Terms.

NGOs:

Non-Governmental Organisations.

NP:

Nagoya Protocol.

PIC:

Prior Informed Consent.

SCBD:

Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity.

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Acknowledgements

The authors appreciated the critical and constructive comments of all anonymous reviewers that helped to improve this and earlier versions of the manuscript.

Author information

D. Neumann and P. Giere wrote the original draft for this article, A.V. Borisenko, C.R. Butler, J.A. Coddington and C.L. Häuser reviewed and commented on earlier versions, C.R. Butler and A. Casino contributed during discussions which helped to shape this article and J.C. Vogel and G. Haszprunar advised on content.

Correspondence to D. Neumann.

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Neumann, D., Borisenko, A.V., Coddington, J.A. et al. Global biodiversity research tied up by juridical interpretations of access and benefit sharing. Org Divers Evol 18, 1–12 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s13127-017-0347-1

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Keywords

  • Nagoya Protocol
  • Access
  • Benefit sharing
  • Ex-situ collections
  • Information networks
  • Code of conduct