New Handbook Promotes Good Practices for Use of Genetic Resources

    GENEVA, Switzerland, Jan. 22 /CNW/ - The Swiss State Secretariat for
Economic Affairs (SECO) and the International Institute for Sustainable
Development (IISD) today announced the release of the first international
voluntary standard for accessing and using genetic resources.
    The ABS-Management Tool (ABS-MT) will assist companies and researchers to
undertake fair and well-informed negotiation with countries and communities
for the use of plants, animals and microbes containing potentially valuable
genetic resources. Such genetic resources are the building blocks for many
medicines, including 78% of all cancer drugs, as well as new agricultural,
horticultural, cosmetic and industrial products. Genetic resources are being
used to develop new crops to adapt to climate change and create new,
enzyme-based, low-energy production systems.
    There has been international concern about biopiracy - situations where
genetic resources have been collected without the prior informed consent of
governments or local communities, or without adequate terms for the sharing of
    The ABS-MT - available in English, Spanish and French - addresses this
problem by helping ensure that those who want to obtain genetic resources do
so in a way which respects an internationally agreed set of procedures known
as the Bonn Guidelines on Access to Genetic Resources and Fair and Equitable
Sharing of Benefits Arising from their Utilization, and follows best
practices. The Bonn Guidelines are part of the global Convention on Biological
Diversity (CBD), which has been ratified by 190 governments.
    This is the first comprehensive, neutral advice for companies and
researchers seeking genetic resources.
    When used properly, the ABS-MT will benefit governments and indigenous
and local communities by providing them with a clear set of outcomes and steps
when negotiating appropriate terms for approving access to the genetic
resources they own and manage.
    Jorge Cabrera, a respected lawyer from Costa Rica, who led the
negotiations of the Bonn Guidelines in 2002, said "the ABS-Management Tool
will help give confidence and build trust between industry and researchers who
search for genetic resources and governments or indigenous and local
communities who own and manage these resources."

    The ABS-MT was funded by the Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs
(SECO) and prepared by the International Institute for Sustainable Development
(Switzerland), Stratos Inc. (Canada) and Jorge Cabrera (Costa Rica).

    Copies of this convenient handbook can be downloaded at:

For further information:

For further information: Dave Boyer, International Institute for
Sustainable Development, + 41 79 792 2452,

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