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The ABS Focal Point of the Netherlands provides guidance for seeking access to resources from the Netherlands and abroad, gives background information on international rules and Dutch policy, and explains terms that are often used. This information is relevant to all individuals, organisations (such as universities and other research organisations) and companies using genetic resources.

For general questions you can use the e-mail address NagoyaNL@wur.nl.

Access and Benefit-Sharing (ABS) refers to the international and national regulation of access to and use of genetic resources and traditional knowledge, and the sharing of benefits stemming from this use between providers and users.

The Nagoya Protocol, aimed at providing a transparent legal framework for ABS, entered into force on 12 October 2014. It is implemented in the European Union through Regulation (EU) 511/2014, which entered into force on the same date. On 27 August 2016, a Guidance document was published by the European Commission on the scope of application and the core obligations of Regulation (EU) 511/2014. On 12 January 2021, a revised Guidance document was published by the EC, providing more detailed information and practical examples on the scope of application and the core user obligations of Regulation (EU) 511/2014.


Until some decades ago, collecting living organisms and taking these across national borders was normal practice and undertaken without any obligations. Seeds and plants were considered public property, and animals could be purchased from their owner for breeding purposes. No obligations or restrictions on the use of the genetic material incorporated in such organisms existed. This practice changed due to increased awareness that genetic resources may have actual or potential value and the establishment of intellectual property rights on products developed from natural organisms and their genetic resources. As a result, countries are increasingly asserting their rights over these resources, and claiming that such resources should not be used without their consent. It was in this context that the concept of Access and Benefit- Sharing (ABS) was introduced. As a result, free access to plants, animals and micro-organisms cannot be taken for granted nowadays: often permission is required from the country where the genetic resource is obtained, and benefits from the use of such resources need to be shared. The rest of this website explores the practical implications of ABS.

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