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Sharing the benefits of digitized DNA

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At present, scientists can browse quadrillions of genetic sequences in open access databases, search for (free) new ways of crop engineering, drug development, or even the creation of synthetic organisms. But a controversial proposal designed to share the benefits of digitized DNA could affect scientists' ability to use this data under Article Chemical and engineering news (C & EN).

At the end of November, representatives of 110 countries meet in Egypt to consider whether genetic data should be subject to the Nagoya Protocol. This international agreement, approved in 2010, was designed to combat biopiracy by requiring genetic resource users to obtain and agree with the countries of origin. However, until now, the Nagoya Protocol applies only to biological material such as leaves or plant roots, and not to digitized DNA sequences, says Senior Correspondent Cheryl Hogue. If the proposed changes to the Pact are approved, scientists could pay fees to donor countries for commercial products developed from genetic sequences.

Applying the Nagoya protocol to genetic resources is controversial. Representatives, many of the developing countries, say the change will provide financial incentives to protect biodiversity. On the other hand, many industrial and academic groups claim that preventing access to genetic sequence information would discourage innovation, prevent research and development, and even jeopardize public health by increasing costs and time for placing medicines and vaccines on the market. Some hope for a compromise that will provide donor countries with financial benefits for maintaining biodiversity while minimizing costs for genetic data users.

Explore the following:
Public health workers warn of danger if data on genetic sequences are included in the Nagoya Protocol

More information:
"States are discussing that digitized DNA data will be linked to biological material," quotes: " … ate-digitized / 96 / i46

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