Nagoya Protocol on Bioprospecting Moves Closer to International Acceptance


Countries Take Steps to Regulate Access and Commercialization of an Array of Products

Many companies and universities obtain samples of plants, microbes and animals from biologically rich countries for research, investigation and development of new products. That research, referred to as “bioprospecting,” will be subject to much greater scrutiny under the Nagoya Protocol on Access to Genetic Resources and the Fair and Equitable Sharing of Benefits Arising from their Utilization. Indeed, this new international agreement may impact research and commercialization of a broad array of products, including pharmaceuticals, biotech products, nutritionals, supplements, cosmetics, perfumes and fragrances, enzymes, and industrial chemicals.

Adopted in October 2010 under the auspices of the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (“CBD”), the Nagoya Protocol seeks to further implement that Convention’s provisions governing access to genetic resources and the fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising out of the utilization of such resources. To that end, the Protocol calls upon each nation to establish clear rules and procedures requiring companies to obtain prior informed consent before accessing a country’s genetic resources. The Protocol also reinforces the authority of each country to require companies to enter into benefit-sharing agreements, based on mutually agreeable terms, stemming from the use of such resources. And, each nation must strengthen its efforts to enforce such agreements and ensure compliance by cooperating with other signatories of the Protocol.

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