ABS updates and Biopiracy examples

NPlogoAs often mentioned in my posts related to ABS, things are moving but rather slowly.

However, I wanted to share with you the last CBD Magazine that gives an overview of actions, partnerships taken to support the Nagoya Protocol Implementation. In the issue we can read about:

  • the EU regulation: State pf play, Challenges and Opportunities;
  • The Brazilian ABS regulation (2015): view of the Brazilian industry;
  • ABS implementation in Japan;
  • International Chamber of Commerce: Helping businesses to implement the NP;
  • Interview of Suhel al-Janabi from ABS Capacity Initiative on their work and the international partnership developed with PhytoTrade Africa and the Union for Ethical BioTrade (Read more about it here);
  • Maria Julia Oliva from the Union for Ethical BioTrade on approaches and experiences in the ethical sourcing of biodiversity;
  • Community Protocols use by Natural Justice;
  • And other chapters.

Actually the part on the Community Protocols is quite interesting as it completes one of my previous post on this tool.

Natural Justice in this chapter explains that these protocols tend to contain a variety of common issues and themes, including details about:

  • A definition of the group and its leadership and decision-making processes
  • Community-based natural resource management systems, knowledge, innovations, and practices,
  • Ways of life, including the links between culture, customary laws and values,
  • Procedures relating to (free), prior and informed consent to any intended activities on their territories, e.g. the access to genetic resources and traditional knowledge,
  • Local challenges and aspirations,
  • Rights, responsibilities and duties according to customary, national and international law
  • Calls to various stakeholders to engage in constructive dialogue.

They also give example of questions that would need to be addressed in the process to reach such outcomes.


BCP questions

You can access the full issue and read the chapter here.

On another hand we still hear about biopiracy. Biopiracy is defined as the act of taking over natural resources (Genetic Resources when in the narrower scope of NP) and traditional knowledge from local stakeholders (e.g. local communities, Indigenous people, etc.)  without their Prior Informed Consent and Benefit Sharing agreement when relevant.

I noted two recent cases:

In the USA on a DNA sequence of the Influenza virus H7N9:

HIghlighted issue is that synthetic biopiracy is an issue that is rising on the international agenda. Separate committee of the CBD, WHO, and ITPGRFA are currently considering the access and benefit sharing implications of gene sequence data and its synthesis.


In a related development, the General Assembly of the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) has recently approved a renewal of negotiations aimed to make it mandatory for patent applicants to disclose the origin of genetic resources they claim. This effort to address broader biopiracy issues should also be very relevant to solving the problem of synthetic biopiracy, and clarify that the origin of genetic resources claimed in patent applications must be divulged, including when the resources are generated from sequence data.

Read more here.

The other case is about Stevia, the new “natural” sweetener used in many new products such as Coca-Cola Life.

A new report, published by a coalition of NGOs and scientific institutions (1), shows that the current hype around Stevia results in the violation of the rights of indigenous peoples, misleading marketing, and controversial synthetic biology. The basis for all the current commercialization of Stevia-derived sweeteners comes from the traditional knowledge of the impoverished Guaraní people in Paraguay and Brazil. In spite of this, the Guaraní have neither given their consent for the use of their knowledge, nor have they received any benefit-sharing as stipulated by the Convention on Biological Diversity and its Nagoya Protocol.


The report The Bittersweet Taste of Stevia points out that the rights of indigenous peoples, enshrined in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), as well as the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and its Nagoya Protocol, are neglected when Stevia-derived steviol glycosides, which are “high-intensity sweeteners” used to sweeten products such as diet soda drinks, are produced and marketed today. “The ongoing commercial use of Ka’a He’e is an act of cruel piracy,” says the Guaraní leader Luis Arce, referring to the traditional name of Stevia rebaudiana.

Read more here.

It still gives food for thoughts but actually it also shows that things are actively moving towards a good and practical implementation of the Nagoya Protocol.

Let’s continue our journey together on these topics.