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Thursday, 11 October 2012

Commission proposes measures to tackle 'biopiracy'

Researchers and companies in the EU received a boost today with a new proposal that should provide reliable access to genetic resources from outside the Union. The proposal – a draft Regulation that would implement the 'Nagoya Protocol on Access to Genetic Resources and Benefit-sharing' – is designed to protect the rights of countries and of indigenous and local communities that allow their genetic resources and associated traditional knowledge to be used, while also giving researchers in Europe improved, reliable access to quality samples of genetic resources at low cost with high legal certainty.
Genetic resources play a significant and growing role in many economic sectors, including plant and animal breeding, cosmetics and pharmaceuticals. Many of these resources come from biodiversity hotspots in the developing world. The absence of clear rules has led some countries to claim that their sovereign rights have been flouted by foreign researchers, a situation known as "biopiracy". The lack of trust has occasionally led to restrictive conditions that hinder access to genetic resources.
The proposals are designed to address those fears, while maximising opportunities for research, development and innovation in nature-based products and services. A level playing field for all EU users of genetic resources should bring particular benefits for SMEs and for publicly funded non-commercial research and enhance opportunities for international collaboration.
The proposed Regulation would oblige users to check that genetic resources and associated traditional knowledge have been accessed in accordance with the applicable legal requirements in the country of origin, and that the benefits are fairly and equitably shared. Users would also be obliged to declare that they have exercised the "due diligence" required by the Regulation (or will do so in future). Users found in breach of the Regulation would be sanctioned.

Source: European Commission