How do BiOS Agreements encourage and ensure Access and Benefits-Sharing?
Principles for the fair and equitable sharing of the benefits arising from the use of genetic resources, notably those destined for commercial use, are now widely recognised. In response to the concern that some authorities are understandably reluctant to share information and strains if they feel uncertainty as to whether the most affected populations will have any access to the benefits derived from them, the 1992 Convention on Biological Diversity requires measures to provide more certainty around access to biological information and genetic resources worldwide.
This recognises a principle in international law that for "a common concern of humankind", such as agriculture, public health, and conservation of natural resources, there is an common interest in an economic goal of securing sustainable use for all. While not all countries have ratified this particular Convention, the particular treaty or wording cited is not as important as our common understanding that that scientific progress will be most rapid and innovative if data are available readily to all investigators in the communities providing research, and delivery of tools, in a way that preserves access to and benefit from their professional investments, intellectual contributions, and capability to use technology for delivery of products, whether for commercial gain or for the public good.
Thus, parties to all BiOS agreements explicitly respect proprietary rights but voluntarily set them aside for others who have agreed to share in the same way. We view this equitable sharing as an important safeguard for food and natural resources security and global public health. This framework is compatible with the Convention on Biological Diversity, as recognised in a review in Nature Review Genetics, April 2006.