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Corporate control and global governance of marine genetic resources

By Feux Follets following x   2018 Jun 9, 4:36pm 55 views   0 comments   watch   sfw   quote     share    

Who owns ocean biodiversity? This is an increasingly relevant question, given the legal uncertainties associated with the use of genetic resources from areas beyond national jurisdiction, which cover half of the Earth’s surface.

We accessed 38 million records of genetic sequences associated with patents and created a database of 12,998 sequences extracted from 862 marine species. We identified >1600 sequences from 91 species associated with deep-sea and hydrothermal vent systems, reflecting commercial interest in organisms from remote ocean areas, as well as a capacity to collect and use the genes of such species.

A single corporation registered 47% of all marine sequences included in gene patents, exceeding the combined share of 220 other companies (37%). Universities and their commercialization partners registered 12%. Actors located or headquartered in 10 countries registered 98% of all patent sequences, and 165 countries were unrepresented.

Our findings highlight the importance of inclusive participation by all states in international negotiations and the urgency of clarifying the legal regime around access and benefit sharing of marine genetic resources. We identify a need for greater transparency regarding species provenance, transfer of patent ownership, and activities of corporations with a disproportionate influence over the patenting of marine biodiversity.

The prospect of the ocean generating a new era of “blue growth” is increasingly finding its way into national and international policy documents around the world and has spurred a rush to claim ocean space and resources (1, 2).

If economic activities in coastal and offshore areas are to expand in an equitable and sustainable manner, in line with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), progress is needed toward addressing multiple and potentially conflicting uses of ocean space within national jurisdictions, in addition to developing a consistent and transparent legal framework for the vast areas beyond national jurisdiction (ABNJ) (3, 4). These areas cover 64% of the world’s ocean and 47% of the Earth’s surface yet remain poorly understood or described (5).

Full Article, Longer Read: http://advances.sciencemag.org/content/4/6/eaar5237.full

PDF: http://advances.sciencemag.org/content/advances/4/6/eaar5237.full.pdf

#Science #Biology #Biodiversity #NaturalResources #Oceans

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