EU Parliament adopts rules that will impact biodiversity based R&D in food and cosmetics sectors
Amsterdam – On 11 March 2014, the European Parliament overwhelmingly adopted new rules on access to genetic resources and fair and equitable sharing of benefits resulting from their utilization (also known as ABS) in the European Union. The European Parliament also granted its consent for the European Union to be legally bound by the Nagoya Protocol on ABS, an international agreement under the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). The decision moves the European Union closer to the ratification of the Nagoya Protocol on ABS, which is expected to enter into force in October 2014.
“The Parliament vote is a landmark vote that will significantly impact the way biodiversity based R&D is conducted in the food and cosmetics industry”, says María Julia Oliva, Senior Coordinator for Policy and Technical Support at the Union for Ethical BioTrade (UEBT).
The EU rules on ABS aims to monitor and support compliance with ABS requirements around the world. Laws and regulations in biodiversity rich countries such as Brazil, South Africa, and India already include requirements on how to access biological material for research and development and how to share the monetary and non-monetary benefits resulting from new information, innovations or products.
“With the new EU rules, persons or organizations conducting biodiversity-based research and development in the European Union – including companies from sectors such as plant breeding, cosmetics, food and beverage, biotechnology and pharmaceuticals – must ensure that the resources and any associated traditional knowledge utilized comply with applicable ABS rules in the provider country”, explains Ms Oliva.
In particular, EU rules on ABS establish due diligence requirements, applicable to research and development conducted on genetic resources accessed once the Nagoya Protocol enters in force. Companies involved in biodiversity-based research and development must seek, keep and transfer information such as on the date and place of access; their source and any subsequent users, and the relevance and compliance with any ABS requirements. When there are uncertainties around ABS compliance, they must obtain relevant permits or discontinue utilization. In turn, EU Member States will establish different checkpoints, including during final stages of product development, for companies to declare compliance with due diligence requirements.
Latest developments on ABS, including the practical implications of the new EU rules for companies working with natural ingredients, will be analyzed at the upcoming conference on the “Beauty of Sourcing with Respect,” organized by the Union for Ethical BioTrade (UEBT) on 8 April in Paris. Discussions on ABS will feature international experts, as well as companies sharing their perspectives and experiences in navigating concrete cases of ABS in different countries. For more information and registration information, please see www.ethicalbiotrade.org/bsr_2014
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