In view of the increasing use of ‘digital sequence information’ (DSI) on genetic resources, the question was raised whether the use of this information should also be subject to access and benefit-sharing obligations. A range of scenarios of how to deal with access to and benefit-sharing from the use of DSI have been developed, and the ABS Competent National Authority of the Netherlands is interested in hearing the experiences and opinions of Dutch stakeholders.
In the decades since the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) was agreed upon in 1992, technological developments in life sciences have been rapid, and genomic information is being used more and more in innovation and product development, in addition to or even instead of genetic resources. In the context of the Nagoya Protocol on Access and Benefit-Sharing, some countries fear that this increasing use of genomic information will lead to decreased benefit-sharing from the use of genetic resources.
As a result, the question was raised whether the use of genomic information, similar to the use of genetic resources, should also be subject to access and benefit-sharing obligations, and an intense international discussion has started. In this discussion, genomic information (and sometimes other information on genetic resources as well) is usually referred to as ‘digital sequence information’ (DSI), although the term DSI is not clearly defined. Presently, opinions diverge widely, and this divergence in opinions has become a major barrier to finding agreement on DSI and other aspects of the CBD and other international agreements.
In general, consensus exists that access to and use of DSI is extremely important for the conservation of biodiversity and sustainable development. However, views diverge on whether access to DSI and the sharing of benefits from its use are currently fair and equitable. Countries also have different opinions on whether and how access to DSI and benefit-sharing from its utilisation should be regulated. Discussions are taking place, mainly under the framework of the CBD and the Nagoya Protocol, but also in other international agreements and organisations. In the meantime, some countries have included DSI in their domestic access legislation.
A range of scenarios of how to deal with access to and benefit-sharing from the use of DSI have been developed. An overview can be found on the website of the CBD.The ABS Competent National Authority of the Netherlands (Ms Kim van Seeters; firstname.lastname@example.org) is interested in hearing the experiences of Dutch stakeholders with DSI and their opinions on the DSI scenarios that have been developed, if possible before 25 May.