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Access to Genetic Resources and the Fair and Equitable Sharing of the Benefits Resulting from their Use – The Challenges of a New Concept

Susette Biber-Klemm

elni Review 2008, Issue 1,  pp. 12-18.

The system of access and benefit sharing (ABS) – or more technically worded “Access to Genetic Resources and Fair and Equitable Sharing of Benefits resulting from their utilisation” – is one of the most debated topics in the field of conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity. Explained in a nutshell, the system institutionalises, on the basis of the national sovereignty over natural resources, conditions for access to and utilisation of genetic resources and – indirectly – also to traditional knowledge related to these genetic resources. It prescribes the well-known triad of Prior Informed Consent (PIC), Mutually Agreed Terms (MAT) and the benefit sharing. This article presents some of the current debates in more detail. In order to facilitate insight into the challenges of the system, the background and context of its evolution are described and analysed.

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