Access and Benefit Sharing in International Law
Chapter 5: Genetic resources within the jurisdiction of Nation States
The UN’s Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) was signed on 5 June 1992 at the conclusion of the UN Conference on Environment and Development and entered into effect on 29 December 1993. The CBD set out three objectives: …to be pursued in accordance with its relevant provisions, are  the conservation of biological diversity,  the sustainable use of its components and  the fair and equitable sharing of the benefits arising out of the utilisation of genetic resources, including by appropriate access to genetic resources and by appropriate transfer of relevant technologies, taking into account all rights over those resources and to technologies, and by appropriate funding. The term ‘genetic resource’ is broadly defined to mean ‘genetic material of actual or potential value’ and ‘genetic materials’ means ‘any material of plant, animal, microbial or other origin containing functional units of heredity’. According to this definition ‘genetic materials’ become ‘genetic resources’ when they have a potential economic or scientific value. The essence of these various definitions is that the subject of ‘genetic resources’ is material that is ‘containing’ what are called ‘functional units of heredity’. Invariably this is the definition of a ‘gene’.
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