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UN hopes for fast ratification of biodiversity treaty

by Staff Writers
Montreal (AFP) Feb 4, 2011
The UN Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity said Friday it hopes a global treaty on the harvesting of genetic resources will be ratified by early 2012.

The Nagoya Protocol enters into force 90 days after it is signed by 50 states.

"We hope to get them (the 50 signatures) before the end of the year," the Montreal-based organization's spokesman David Ainsworth told AFP.

Adopted in October 2010 at a conference in Nagoya, Japan, the protocol sets out new rules for the collection of genetic resources such as wild plants to make medicines, cosmetics and other products.

It also calls for a fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising from the use of genetic resources.

Coveted by drug and other companies in developed nations, these materials are mostly found in developing nations such as Brazil with its treasure trove of resources in the Amazon basin.

The legally binding protocol ensures that countries with genetic resources enjoy some of the profits of the assets' commercial development.

However, many details of the protocol, such as how much this may cost pharmaceutical companies and developed nations, were left for later negotiations.

During a ceremony in New York on February 2, representatives of Colombia, Yemen, Brazil and Algeria signed the Nagoya Protocol. It is to remain open for signature until February 1, 2012.

Genetic resources from plants, animals or micro-organisms are used for various purposes, ranging from basic research to the development of products.

Users of genetic resources include research institutes, universities and private companies operating in sectors such as pharmaceuticals, agriculture, horticulture, cosmetics and biotechnology.

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