Access and benefit-sharingEnsuring that appropriate genetic resources with relevant traits are available and accessible is crucial for food security. In most countries, a significant part of the genetic diversity used in food and agriculture originates from other countries. Countries are thus interdependent when it comes to accessing the genetic resources needed to safeguard their food security. At the same time, it is widely acknowledged that countries have the sovereign right to exploit their own resources, including the right to control and limit access to them. Increasingly, countries regulate access to their genetic resources and impose benefit-sharing obligations on the users of these resources.
Globally, the issue of access and benefit-sharing (ABS) is addressed, in varying degrees of detail, by the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), the FAO International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (Treaty) and the Nagoya Protocol, a supplementary agreement to the CBD.
Since its inception, the Commission has been dealing with matters related to ABS. In fact, the Commission owes its establishment to the first international instrument addressing the ABS for plant genetic resources: the 1983 International Undertaking on Plant Genetic Resources. Between 1994 and 2001, the Commission negotiated the Treaty. Once the Treaty had entered into force, the Commission decided to continue working on ABS to ensure that ABS is supportive of the special needs of the agricultural sector in regard to all components of biodiversity for food and agriculture. The Commission closely follows relevant developments in ABS. Its “ABS Elements” aim to assist governments in developing and implementing ABS measures that take into account the importance of genetic resources for food and agriculture, their special role for food security and the distinctive features of different genetic resources for food and agriculture.
Elements to Facilitate Domestic Implementation of Access and Benefit-Sharing for Different Subsectors of Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture with explanatory notes