Policy on genetic sequence data has emerged as a contentious topic in the negotiations on the Global Biodiversity Framework, an important treaty framework that is being developed to ensure progress toward the objectives of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). As the research community is the main provider and user of sequence data, it is crucial that their voices are heard as policy is developed. To this end, the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) has funded an interdisciplinary project called “Wissenschaftsbasierte Lösungsansätze für Digitale Sequenzinformation (DSI) (WiLDSI)” or, in English, “Science-based approaches for digital sequence information”.
In the first phase of this project, we identified policy approaches that protect the sequencing community’s tradition of open sharing, support global research innovation, and ensure fair, sustainable benefit sharing for the countries of origin. The full report is available here.
Phase two of this project is currently underway. Learn more about this project’s activities, outputs, and the newly founded DSI Network here.
The European Virus Archive (EVA-GLOBAL) is a globally distributed research infrastructure composed of 38 academic institutions at the forefront of human, animal and plant virological research. Its worldwide distribution of virus isolates, derivatives and reagents is ensured with high-quality control standards and validated standard operational procedures in all partner institutions. While services and products are offered through a centralized system (i.e. the EVA catalogue website), it is the decentralized biobanking and database infrastructure that has allowed for the preservation of a wide variety of readily available viral isolates. EVA GLOBAL is a well-recognized entity by global health organizations (e.g. WHO; World Organization for Animal Health, and the Food and Agriculture Organization) due to its significant participation in supporting pandemic response efforts during the Chikunguya, Influenza A–H1N1, MERS-Coronavirus, Ebola, Zika and the current SARS-CoV-2 outbreaks.
Our expert contribution to the EVA project is by leading Work package 7, which is responsible for Nagoya Protocol implementation across the consortium as well as regulatory affairs. Its commitment to the issue is reflected in its ongoing Nagoya Protocol (NP) compliance strategy that aims at ensuring that genetic material offered through the EVA GLOBAL catalogue will be compliant to the Nagoya Protocol. As an EU financed project this will be primarily within the legal context of the EU regulation No 511/2014 (EU ABS regulation). Important to mention is that collections themselves are not legally required to be “Nagoya compliant” because the act of collecting and storing genetic resources it not “utilization” as defined under the EU ABS regulation. Nonetheless, the proactive compliance and commitment from EVA partners will greatly improve the usability and legal certainty of the viruses and products in the EVA catalogue for end users. In practice, this means that genetic material with any obligations or restrictions from the providing country will be clearly marked in the EVA catalogue and relevant documentation transferred to the end user. The effort and commitments to offer compliant items on the EVA GLOBAL platform has been supported by both EU and non-EU partners and will be beneficial as “voluntary commitment” from those outside the EU.
The German Nagoya Protocol HuB, or GNP HuB for short, is a project financed through the German Federal Agency for Nature Conservation (Bundesamt für Naturschutz, BfN) with funds from the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, and Nuclear Safety (BMU).
DSMZ is leading this project. Our project partners are the Consortium of German Natural Science Collections (DNFS), the German Life Sciences Association (VBIO), and the Leibniz Resarch Alliance for Biodiversity (LVB).
HuB stands for “Hilfe und Beratung” (“help and guidance” in English). This project aims to help academic researchers in Germany with understanding understanding their obligations arising from the implementation of the Nagoya Protocol.
We provide information about access and benefit-sharing (ABS) in countries that provide biological material (“genetic resources”) for research and researchers’ compliance obligations in Germany.
What are we doing?
- We are building up the German Nagoya Protocol HuB website: https://www.nagoyaprotocol-hub.de/. This website hosts a range of information resources on ABS and compliance, including various tools developed by the project.
- We’ve started the German Nagoya Protocol HuB Network, This informal network involves research institutions, universities and other actors from across Germany, providing a platform for ongoing exchange about ABS and compliance.
- We help people. Academic researchers in Germany can contact our help desk and ask questions.
- We do awareness-raising. Information sessions are provided free of charge for academic research institutions across Germany.
- We organize networking events and workshops to support the academic community with Nagoya Protocol compliance.
Selected project documents:
4. “Build your ABS Strategy” checklist