ABS Disclaimer

The Nagoya Protocol on access to genetic resources and the equitable sharing of benefits arising from their use

One of the main principles of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) is that countries hold sovereign rights over their genetic (= biological) resources and can choose to regulate access to them and the conditions under which they can be utilized. The Nagoya Protocol (NP) has created a framework under international law that regulates the implementation of the objectives of the CBD. This means that any biological resource (except human samples), i.e. plants, animals or microorganisms or parts thereof (including DNA), belongs to the country from which it originates. Appropriate permits from the country of origin may be required (at the discretion of each country) for the collection, export and use of resources. This explicitly applies not only to commercial use, but also to non-commercial (including scientific and educational) use.

The Nagoya Protocol is implemented in the European Union by Regulation (EU) No. 511/2014 which came into force on the 12th October 2014.

The EMBRC infrastructure is implementing a plan to ensure that all component biological resource centres comply with national and European legislation relating to Access and Benefit Sharing (ABS), as well as developing tools and resources to help users to undertake the due diligence required under ABS rules.

A central principle of ABS legislation is that it is the responsibility of users (not providers) of biological resources to prove that the resources they are using are compliant with ABS rules in both the country where the resources are used and the country of origin of the resource. In order to help users to fulfil this obligation, all EMBRC biological resource providers are required to provide a defined set of information on the provenance of resources (country of origin, collection site, collector, collection date, description, etc.) via a "resource passport".

EMBRC is also aiming to provide an indication of the ABS status of strains/samples held in collections by checking for each resource: (1) whether any national ABS (or ABS-like) legislation that requires users to make a declaration or request an authorization is in force in the country of origin of the resource, and if so (2) whether these conditions are applied only since the date of entry into application of the national legislation or whether they are applied retroactively irrespective of the date of sampling. In response to the question "Are users allowed to use this biological resource without applying for formal ABS authorization", the colour coded ABS status indicator on this site provides our assessment of whether:

- the answer is "yes" (= green light ) because either:

  • the country of origin is not party to the NP and no ABS-like authorization is required;
  • the country of origin is party to the NP but no ABS authorization is required (no national legislation);
  • the country of origin is party to the NP but no ABS authorization is required (national legislation exists but not retroactive pre-NP or not applicable to this category of resource);
  • no information is available on country of origin, but the resource was sampled pre-NP.

- the answer is "potentially" (= orange light ) because either:

  • the country of origin is party to the NP and ABS authorization may be required (=contact the relevant ABS NFP);
  • the country of origin is not party to the NP but ABS-like authorization may be required (=contact the relevant ABS NFP).

- the answer is "no" (= red light ) because:

  • no information is available on country of origin, resource sampled post-NP.

When authorization for the use of resources may be required, EMBRC advises users to contact the National Focal Point (NFP) of the country in question (stating the origin of the resource and intended use) in order to obtain information on the procedure that applies for that country. Contact details for NFPs can be found on the ABS Clearing House website here.

Please note that we provide this assessment of ABS status, which to the best of our knowledge is correct, purely as an indicative tool to help users in their choice of bioiogical resources, but it remains the sole responsibility of the user to verify whether any ABS authorizations are required for each biological resource ordered. EMBRC and it's individual component resource centres cannot therefore be held responsible for any errors in our appreciation of the ABS status of biological resources. If users find any errors in this information we would be very grateful if you could inform us so that we can update our database.

If you require any additional information on ABS rules and procedures or ABS status of any particular biological resources, please do not hesitate to contact us.