Problems and Solutions of Access to Genetic Resources and Benefit Sharing: A Theoretical Perspective - Part I

Gerd Winter
Professor of Public Law,
Research Unit for European Environmental Law (FEU),
University of Bremen


Access to genetic resources and benefit sharing (ABS) have taken quite sophisticated regulatory shapes since their inauguration by the Convention on Biological Diversity of 1992 and its Nagoya Protocol of 2010. The development of legal regimes and their implementation have nevertheless been accompanied by vivid controversies about several alleged shortcomings. This contribution  provides an overview of existing unsolved problems, including of utilisation, commercialisation, digitalisation, and benefit sharing, explains them in terms of equity between providers and users of genetic resources and other principles, and discusses a number of more basic alternatives which are structured along a line from provider to user driven, or ‘upstream’ and ‘downstream’ models. The article is split into two parts. The first discusses the problems that have so far arisen from ABS law and practice while the second, building on experiences made, reflects on reasons why the problems are difficult to solve, and presents possible alternative models for ABS.


Digital sequence information (DSI), genetic resources, traditional knowledge associated with genetic resources (aTK), utilisation of GR.             LEAD Journal - ISSN 1746-5893