- freely available
Resources 2017, 6(1), 11; doi:10.3390/resources6010011
1.2. The Genetic Resource and Its Utilization
- Selective breeding and artificial selection, which is the selection of organisms with useful properties by producing targeted mutations on their genomes or by crossing directly their genomes (cell fusion, molecular markers, etc.).
- Genetic engineering, which is the modification of genomes by removing genetic material or by adding sequences from other organisms, which belong or not to the same species.
- Synthetic biology, which is the artificial creation of biological systems (naturally occurring or not) by adding artificial DNA sequences to a minimal natural genetic ‘frame’ or by assembling segments of artificial DNA to build a functional system.
1.3. Material and Intellectual Property Rights over Genetic Resources
1.4. Global Regulation of Genetic Resources Utilization
- States Parties to the NP: 79 countries
- States Parties to the NP with a ABS legislation in force: 22 countries
- States Parties to the CBD: 119 countries
- States Parties to the CBD with a ABS legislation in force: 17 countries
2. Purposes of the Study
2.1. Estimation of the Number of Permits Issued and ABS Agreements Concluded
2.1.1. Data Collected from an Online Survey
- How many ABS agreements have been concluded in your country?
- How many access permits to GR have been issued in your country?
- If possible, could you indicate the proportion of agreements/permits that have been concluded/issued before and after your country became a State Party to the NP?
2.1.2. Data Collected from Secondary Sources
2.1.3 The Access and Benefits Sharing Clearing-House as Source of Data
2.2. Critical Review of the Current Existing Explanations of the Numbers of Permits and Agreements
- Very few contracts have been concluded because the implementation of national ABS laws by States Parties is incomplete or dissuading potential users to request access to GR:
- Only a small minority of States Parties to the Convention or Protocol have been able to put in place the corresponding national legislations. This is notably due to a lack of technical expertise, lack of sufficient budget, lacking strong enough government structures and political support, local social conflict, and conflict over ownership of GR .
- Among the few states that have succeeded in adopting ABS legislation, several have developed fragmented and ambiguous legal frameworks with poorly defining competencies, multiplying PIC to be obtained from different stakeholders and on the basis of different laws. Some existing legislations require long, cumbersome, and complicated procedures to establish MATs or obtain access [6,12]. They also do not offer sufficiently distinct procedures between access requests for basic and commercial researches [4,12]. The adoption of such restrictive legislations is explained by the expectations among provider countries that they will get money from the ABS mechanism and their will to put an end to the free and abusive utilization of “their” GR . The lack of willingness by user countries to put measures into place to monitor compliance with the provisions of supplier countries is also mentioned as one of the factors that have made provider countries particularly cautious and pushed them to adopt restrictive access conditions to their GR [11,12]. Indeed, once the GR has left the provider’s territory, the latter has no way to monitor that the downstream process of R&D complies with the provisions of the corresponding ABS agreement. The insurance that user countries would monitor downstream process in that regard was therefore crucial for provider States. That was, and still is, a source of major disappointment for them and they responded to it by adopting restrictive ABS provisions [4,11].
- Very few contracts have been concluded because of a lack of demand for GR by potential users
- The high demand for GR that was anticipated during the 1990s has not been confirmed. The entry into force of the CBD is already 22 years old and progress in the field of biotechnology has profoundly modified the research processes as well as the research strategies of the pharmaceutical, agrochemical, food, and cosmetic firms. On one hand, it became possible to probe more deeply the GR research teams already have in their immediate environment or in the numerous ex situ collections they can freely access . For example, in the agrochemical and seed sectors, the major actors of the industry use mergers and acquisitions to extend their collections of GR. The seed industry has been consolidating strongly over the last 30 years. The numerous small actors of the market (and most importantly the varieties, genes or technologies they possess through IPRs) are bought by a few multinationals through mergers and acquisitions [10,36,37,38]. As a result, in the early 2000s, emerged the so-called ”Big Six” group composed of Syngenta, Bayer, Monsanto, DuPont, Dow, and BASF. These consolidated groups are active in both the agrochemical, seed, and pharmaceutical sectors. For the seed market in particular, the five largest groups hold more than 45% of the market share in terms of sales volumes . Consolidation has a direct effect on plant GR exchanges as well as, although to a lesser extent, on bioprospection for wild GR. Indeed, this industrial strategy of both vertical and horizontal integration aims among other things to obtain IPRs (mostly patent) via the purchase of the small companies that have those IPRs over biotechnology technics, traits (genes), organisms, etc. [9,10]. Consolidation thus proportionally increases the catalog of GR at the disposal of the “Big Six”, whether these GR are protected by a plant breeders right or a patent. Consequently, these ‘giant’ actors escape the ABS regime, as they are not (or to a minimal extend) requesting access to foreign GR.
- On the other hand, high throughput screening and combinatorial chemistry make it possible to generate whole libraries of molecules to be tested on various biological targets without having to rely on the diversity of natural compounds and in a faster and cheaper way than the latter . As a result, there is a decline of interest for the search for exotic GR—the so called “green gold”—since the 1990s [3,29].
- Moreover, if GR are used through biotechnology technics, only a minute amount of the resource is needed to conduct R&D program (sequencing, amplification, eventually artificial reproduction, etc.), which makes the monitoring of access difficult and the resupply unnecessary. Metagenomics represent an “extreme” aspect of this evolution as it makes it possible to extract genetic material from complex environmental samples, without having to deal with the organisms carrying it . Finally, because of scientific advances, the interest for GRs has shifted to micro-organisms. This evolution has several decreasing effects on demand for access to GR: the origin of micro-organisms is far more difficult to identify, one can easily access microbes through vast and freely accessible collections or by collecting samples in his own backyard .
3.1. Analysis of the Results
3.1.1. Accuracy of the Estimation
3.1.2. General Comments
3.1.3. Analysis of the First Explanatory Causal Mechanism in the Light of the Results
3.1.4. Analysis of the Second Explanatory Causal Mechanism in the Light of the Results
3.2. Research Perspectives
Conflicts of Interest
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|Access Permits Granted||ABS Agreements Concluded|
|Commercial||Non-Commercial||Commercial||Non-Commercial||Commercial ABS Agreements/Year|
|States Parties to the Nagoya Protocol with ABS Legislation in Force|
|India (2006–2016)||91 (53 since Party to the NP)||14 (2 under NP)||0||1.4|
|South Africa (2008–2015)||17||33||n.i||4.7|
|States Parties to the Nagoya Protocol|
|18 other state parties 1||0||0||0||0|
|States Parties to the CBD with ABS Legislation in Force|
|Costa Rica (2004–2015)||50||333||3||45||0.2|
|Venezuela (1996–2016)||39||22 (13 since the current ABS law entered into force in 2009)||57 (27 since the current ABS law entered into force in 2009)||1.1|
|Brazil (2004–2013)||n.i||1057 (2010–2012)||103||n.i||11.4|
|Bolivia (2000–2005)||n.i||2 (50–60 requests)||8||0.4|
|Colombia (2003–2013)||n.i||1||89 (199 requests)||0.1|
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