As the prevalence and volume of sequence data in the life sciences has grown exponentially, the question of how to address benefit-sharing from this so-called digital sequence information (DSI) has arisen. In a landmark agreement for conservation, the Global Biodiversity Framework, also put a process on the development of a new multilateral mechanism for benefit-sharing under the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) into motion. Because the research community is the main provider and user of sequence data, it is crucial that their voices and hand-on experiences are heard as policy is developed. 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 project from 2019-2020, 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.
In a second project from 2021-2023, our work on DSI continues. In particular, the DSI Scientific Network continues to grow and bring an international perspective on DSI benefit-sharing issues.
This project has received funding from the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung) under grant agreement No 031B0862 and
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 requires high-quality control standards and validated standard operational procedures in all partner institutions. Services and products are offered through the centralized EVA catalogue, but decentralized biobanking and database infrastructures enable the conservation of a wide variety of 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.
The DSMZ leads a work package on Nagoya Protocol compliance, DSI, and regulatory issues across the EVA GLOBAL consortium. Through the development of a Nagoya Protocol (NP) compliance strategy, the consortium aims to ensure that genetic material offered through the EVA GLOBAL catalogue will be compliant with the Nagoya Protocol and EU regulation No 511/2014 (EU ABS regulation). This is a voluntary and proactive effort, as 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. The 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 the EU and beyond.
This project has received funding from the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement
The German Nagoya Protocol HuB, or GNP HuB for short, 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.
DSMZ is the host and project lead for the HuB and worked closely with project partners at the Consortium of German Natural Science Collections (DNFS), the German Life Sciences Association (VBIO), and the Leibniz Resarch Alliance for Biodiversity (LVB) during the first funding phase of the project. The project was financed from 2020-2022 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).
The German Nagoya Protocol HuB is financed by the Federal Agency for Nature Conservation (Bundesamt für Naturschutz) with funds from the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Nuclear Safety and Consumer Protection (Bundesministerium für Umwelt, Naturschutz, nukleare Sicherheit und Verbraucherschutz) under grant agreement No 351981050A.
Examining Trends in Non-Monetary Benefit-Sharing (ET-NMBS)
Negotiations on Access and Benefit Sharing (the third goal of the CBD) have often focused on monetary benefits. However, the non-monetary benefits generated primarily by academic research receive far less attention. During the negotiations on the Global Biodiversity Framework 2020, the goal of a quantifiable increase in monetary and non-monetary benefits (Goal C and Target 13) has emerged. With this commitment, there is a new opportunity to highlight the significant investment in research and resulting non-monetary benefit sharing (NMBS).
The project will develop and apply new, standardized methods for quantifying three types of NMBS as described in the Nagoya Protocol annex: research results shared, international collaborations, and access to infrastructure and databases. Project results will be brought into the CBD process to help demonstrate the extent and impact of NMBS. Research is focused on the standardization, quantification, and reporting of NMBS at a global scale, structured in five work packages.
The ET-NMBS project is financed through the German Federal Agency for Nature Conservation (Bundesamt für Naturschutz, BfN) from 2022-2025 and will support and engage with the post-2020 GBF and broader international processes.
This project has received funding from the Federal Agency for Nature Conservation (Bundesamt für Naturschutz).
FAR-DSI: Feasibility Assessment of Regulation for Digital Sequence Information
The Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) is a global agreement dealing with the conservation of biodiversity, its sustainable use, and the fair and equitable sharing of the benefits arising from the utilization of genetic resources (GR). A decision on whether benefits from digital sequence information must be shared was unresolved until the Global Biodiversity Framework’s decision to establish a multilateral benefit-sharing mechanism. While the decision defined principles for DSI benefit-sharing, much work needs to be done to develop and implement the mechanism.
The FAR-DSI project will provide technical and practical information to assess the feasibility of various multilateral benefit-sharing modalities. The FAR-DSI project has the following project goals:
- Translate the COP15 decision into technical policy scenarios.
- Perform an impact assessment of the narrowed-down policy options, specifically their impact for the German research infrastructure and global research community based on three case studies and workshops.
- Provide data and suggest metrics on potential DSI indicators including for the GBF itself.
- Make technical recommendations to policymakers on potential new DSI-related capacity development needs particularly in the fields of biodiversity-related -omics, bioinformatics, and data infrastructures.
The FAR-DSI project is led by the German Federation for Biological Data (GFBio) which received funding from 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). As a GFBio member, the DSMZ provides technical supervision and guidance for the project.
This project has received funding from the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Nuclear Safety and Consumer Protection (Bundesministerium für Umwelt, Naturschutz, nukleare Sicherheit und Verbraucherschutz) and the Federal Agency for Nature Conservation (Bundesamt für Naturschutz) under grant agreement No 3522800600.