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Progress needed on global regime for access to genetic resources and benefit-sharing

Officials from the 188 members of the Convention on Biological Diversity are urged to make progress in defining a global regime on access to genetic resources and benefit sharing as they resume negotiations at a one-week meeting in Granada Spain from 30 January to 3 February.

The talks are based upon the notion that by granting a company or organization access to its genetic resources (such as plants that can be used to produce new pharmaceuticals or fragrances), a country or indigenous or local community will in return receive a fair share of the profits or other benefits.

"My hope is that this meeting in Granada will mark a turning point in the negotiations and will thus be remembered as the one during which all countries decided to roll up their sleeves and achieve a breakthrough in the negotiations", said Ahmed Djoghlaf, the Convention's Executive Secretary.

The Convention on Biological Diversity recognizes the sovereign right of States over their genetic resources and the need to find a balance between providing access to those resources and ensuring the equitable sharing of the benefits arising from their use.

It also notes that access to genetic resources should be governed by the principle of "prior informed consent" and that benefits should be distributed on the basis of "mutually agreed terms."

The meeting in Spain is the second negotiating session dealing with international regulations on access to genetic resources and the sharing of benefits. Delegates to the first talks, held in Bangkok in February of last year, identified and discussed a broad range of options for the scope and potential objectives of this global regime, including new concepts such as a certificate of origin and the disclosure of origin in applications for intellectual property rights.

"Uncertainty is a serious disincentive for business and a major obstacle for long term investment" stated Dr. Djoghlaf. "The current uncertainty surro
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Contact: David Ainsworth
david.ainsworth@biodiv.org
514-287-7025
Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity
24-Jan-2006


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