New ´fast track´ Access and Benefit-Sharing Agreement for Costa Rican microbes

New ´fast track´ Access and Benefit-Sharing Agreement for Costa Rican microbes

Costa Rica is a megadiverse country home to a wealth of biological diversity (Source: Source: Dörte Becher, Greifwald/DSMZ)

The Leibniz Institute DSMZ German Collection of Microorganisms and Cell Cultures GmbH and the Costa Rican National Commission for Biodiversity Management (CONAGEBIO) of the Ministry of Environment and Energy recently signed a new “fast track” framework for access and benefit sharing (ABS) of Costa Rican microbes deposited in the DSMZ ex situ collection. The agreement significantly simplifies the process of depositing and using microbial resources from Costa Rica obtained from the DSMZ bioresource catalogue. ABS obligations of Costa Rican genetic resources stem from the 1992 UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) to which Costa Rica and Germany are a party. This treaty has three main objectives: the conservation of biological diversity, the sustainable use of its components and the fair and equitable sharing of the benefits arising from the utilization of genetic resources. As a registered collection under the European Union”s Regulation (511/2014), the DSMZ has a strong commitment to ensure ABS compliance. The DSMZ open collection offers not only a wide diversity of microbial resources, but also provides legal information and ABS documentation, which reduces the bureaucratic burden for compliance from the DSMZ customers.

Before the new agreement, the users of Costa Rican material from the DSMZ bioresource catalogue would have needed to contact and apply for permits in Costa Rica for each new microbial resource, in order to guarantee benefit-sharing with the providing country. This procedure, however, is incompatible with the International Code of Nomenclature of Prokaryotes (ICNP) that requires new type strains to be available without restrictions. Before discussions began, the DSMZ feared it could not accept strains from Costa Rica for deposit. The Costa Rican authorities wanted to facilitate and ensure that scientists were able to deposit and publish new species of microbes. The new agreement is a win-win for both sides. Costa Rican microbial strains can now be deposited to and distributed by the DSMZ for basic, non-commercial research and the fast-track mechanism is compatible with the ICNP and guarantees benefits will be shared according to the CBD. For commercial use of Costa Rican strains, researchers will have to contact Costa Rican authorities and obtain a commercial ABS permit.

The new process

Under the fast-track procedure, the customer provides information about their intended research with the Costa Rican strain in a standardized form and agrees to share non-monetary benefits, such as scientific publications resulting from the research, with Costa Rica. The Leibniz Institute DSMZ will regularly inform Costa Rican authorities on the distribution of Costa Rican microbial strains. This new process is currently applicable to over 50 microbial strains in the DSMZ bioresource catalogue (see example). “The fast track agreement shows that when two partners come together in a trustful environment, it can improve processes and increase efficiency for all sides including the users of resources”, says M.Sc. Angela González Grau, Executive Director of CONAGEBIO. Prof. Dr. Jörg Overmann, microbiologist and Scientific Director of the Leibniz Institute DSMZ, is also optimistic: “We found a compromise with our Costa Rican colleagues and think this agreement can be a model for future discussions with other countries to establish science-friendly ABS processes”.

Bildquelle: Source: Dörte Becher, Greifwald/DSMZ

Die DSMZ ist das größte Bioressourcenzentren weltweit. Die Sammlung umfasst derzeit über 79.000 Bioressourcen.

Leibniz-Institut DSMZ-Deutsche Sammlung von Mikroorganismen und Zellkulturen
Sven-David Müller
Inhoffenstraße 7 B
38124 Braunschweig