Scientific and technological developments related to digital sequence information on genetic resources create major implications for international systems of access and benefit-sharing, including the CBD Nagoya Protocol on ABS and the Multilateral System of ABS of the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture, as well as relevant targets under SDGs 2 and 15.
The CBD and ITPGRFA Secretariats have called for views and information to shed light on different DSI-related issues.
1 April 2019: Digital sequence information (DSI) on genetic resources has emerged as a major topic of deliberation in all fora related to biodiversity use and access and benefit-sharing (ABS). Following decisions of their respective governing bodies, the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (ITPGRFA) have called for submission of views and information aiming to shed light on various DSI-related issues.
As biodiversity-based research and development is increasingly based on the information content of genetic resources, enabled by genomic technologies, physical access to biological samples of genetic resources may become unnecessary, and fair and equitable benefit-sharing harder to achieve. This creates major implications for international ABS systems, including the CBD’s Nagoya Protocol on ABS and the ITPGRFA Multilateral System of ABS, as well as relevant targets under SDGs 2 (zero hunger) and 15 (life on land).
In the context of the ITPGRFA, the Treaty’s Governing Body has decided to consider, at its forthcoming eighth session to be held in November 2019, the potential implications of the use of DSI on genetic resources for the objectives of the Treaty, and to consider it for inclusion in the Multi-Year Programme of Work of the Governing Body. In preparation, the ITPGRFA Secretariat has invited submission of information by 17 May 2019 on:
- terminology used in this area;
- actors involved with DSI on plant genetic resources for food and agriculture;
- the types and extent of uses of DSI, such as characterization, breeding and genetic improvement, conservation, and identification; and
- the relevance of DSI for food security and nutrition.
A science and policy-based process on DSI has been established in the CBD framework, entailing the submission of views and information, the commissioning and peer review of four studies, an Ad Hoc Technical Expert Group (AHTEG), and consideration of the AHTEG’s outcomes by the Working Group established to support the preparation of the post-2020 global biodiversity framework. In this context, the CBD Secretariat has invited submission of views and information by 1 June 2019 on:
- the concept, including relevant terminology and scope, of DSI on genetic resources and if and how domestic measures on ABS consider DSI;
- benefit-sharing arrangements from commercial and non-commercial use of DSI; and
- capacity-building needs regarding access, use, generation, and analysis of DSI on genetic resources, in particular for the three CBD objectives.