More on de-coupled ABS

Readers with a longish memory and a liking for exploring the further reaches of biodiversity Access and Benefit Sharing (ABS) policy will probably recall a post from a couple of years ago featuring the thoughts of Dr Amber Hartman Scholz. Well, you can now get another shot of the same, via a paper which Dr Scholz has recently co-authored with Dr Michael Halewood, a researcher at the Alliance of Bioversity International and CIAT (and the CGIAR Genebanks Initiative), and others.

They call for a radically new approach: simple, broad, unavoidable, guaranteed and harmonized. Too good to be true? Check it out.

2 Replies to “More on de-coupled ABS”

  1. The Policy Forum Opinion in Science by Halewood et al welcomes a “multilateral mechanism for the sharing of benefits arising from the use of digital sequence information on genetic resources, including a global fund” (Decision 15/9 of COP15 of the UNCBD).

    The pseudonymous “Angelica breweri” identifies a lack of terminological rigor in the Opinion [FN1]. The authors have omitted “on genetic resources” with their first use of “digital sequence information” (DSI). They fail to mention the status of DSI as a placeholder term, much less the consensus of the 2018 AHTEG on DSI that DSI is “not the appropriate term” [FN2]

    Decision 15/9 did not resolve whether a “genetic resource” is a still a genetic resource once dematerialized [FN3]. If DSI is within the scope of the CBD definition of “genetic resource”, then efficiency militates against the mechanism of Decision 15/9. Article 10 of the Nagoya Protocol is titled Global Multilateral Benefit-Sharing Mechanism (GMBSM). Redundancy epitomizes inefficiency. If DSI is not within the scope of “genetic resource”, then why any decision on an inappropriate placeholder? [FN4]

    Advocacy of Decision 15/9 has the contours of bait and switch. Users are baiting Providers with the lure of a “global fund”. They negotiate from a position of strength, reminding Providers that DSI is not within the scope of genetic resources. Once Providers agree to infinitesimal royalties, Users will then lobby for an extension of the mechanism to all genetic resources in the GMBSM [FN5].

    Rather than “too good to be true”, this scheme is too obvious to happen. Stakeholders, public or private, do due diligence, especially if the “flagship project”, “demonstration case” or “experiment” runs into the hundreds of millions of dollars. This is of public concern.

    FN1 Angelica breweri,, Comment #1 to Halewood, et al, “New benefit-sharing principles for digital sequence information” SCIENCE (2023),

    FN2 UNSCBD, “Report of The AHTEG on DSI, Feb. 2018, p. 5.

    FN3 UNSCBD, Decision 15/9 of Conference of the Parties 15, “Digital Sequence Information on Genetic Resources”, December 2022, p. 2.

    FN4 Joseph Henry Vogel, Manuel Ruiz Muller, Klaus Angerer, Dino Delgado-Guitiérrez, Alfredo Gálvez Ballón, “Bounded openness: A robust modality of access to genetic resources and the sharing of benefits”, PLANTS PEOLE PLANET, Vol 4 Issue 1 (2022),

    FN5 Joseph Henry Vogel, “Economics Affords Powerful Abstraction: A Bauplan Exists for the Isomorphic Global Multilateral Benefit-Sharing Mechanism”, Submission of views on the issues set out in the Annex to the Decision Adopted by The Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity15/9. Digital sequence information on genetic resources, 19 March 2023, Item #7:

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