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UN Pushes Its Nagoya Protocol Treaty

June 1, 2011

The United Nation’s executive secretary on biodiversity said Tuesday that approval of a global treaty on the harvesting of genetic resources should occur by July 2012.

The 193 member countries of the UN committed to support the Nagoya Protocol when it was adopted in October 2010, but so far only 25 countries have signed the protocol, said UN’s Ahmed Djoghlaf.

Djoghlaf, attending a biodiversity forum in the Philippines, said 50 of the member countries will have ratified by July 2012. He said the protocol will come into force as a treaty once it gets 50 countries to sign on.

The agreement puts new rules into place for the collection of genetic resources such as wild plants for medicines and cosmetics. It will also call for a fair and unbiased sharing of benefits arising from the use of genetic resources between the company that develops a new product and the country where the resources originated.

So far, however, the protocol is being slowed up by legal issues and translation problems, said Djoghlaf. “All governments have different ratification processes. It’s not a matter of a lack of political will,” he told the AFP news agency.

He said the protocol would encourage countries to preserve their natural resources knowing there is a possibility they could benefit if products are made from them. He added that 76 percent of all cancer drugs were derived from natural, or partly-natural, resources.

He said that many countries failed to realize the value of their biodiversity, leading to its waste and destruction. He cited studies from The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity that found that about 3 trillion dollars worth of biodiversity is lost each year.

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