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Posted : 2014-02-24 17:18
Updated : 2014-02-24 17:18

Korea urged to ratify pact on use of genetic materials

By Kim Se-jeong

Braulio Ferreira de Souza Dias, Head of CBD
The head of an international organization overseeing biological diversity talks urged Korea to ratify an international agreement on the use of genetic materials for the promotion of its economy.

"President Park Geun-hye is promoting the creative economy. Biodiversity can be part of that, because there's nothing you can do in the areas of health, agriculture, fisheries and forestry without the use of genetic resources," said Braulio Ferreira de Souza Dias in an interview.

Souza Dias, head of the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), is currently in PyeongChang, Gangwon Province for a preparatory meeting for the 12th CBD conference scheduled from Oct. 6 to 17.

The Nagoya Protocol, adopted at the CBD's Nagoya meeting in 2010, was a breakthrough as almost 200 participating countries agreed on equitable benefit sharing of genetic resources.

The goal is establish a legal framework so that users of genetic materials pay a price for genetic resources to providers.

Developing countries which happen to be the provider welcome the framework, whereas advanced countries showed reluctance.

The protocol is now awaiting ratification from 50 individual countries for it to take effect. Twenty-nine countries have so far ratified it, and if the numbers are met before October, the conference in Pyeongchang will open new discussions on implementation.

The executive secretary has an optimistic view on ratification of the accord, saying it could be achieved as early as July.

Korea hasn't ratified the protocol yet as a domestic law needs to be past first, however, conflicts of interest among stakeholders are slowing down the process.

The private sector represented by pharmaceutical and health-related companies is most sensitive about the issue and the most vocal in its opposition.

The Ministry of Environment refused to elaborate on development of the process, only saying only that it was hard to predict the prospects for ratification at the moment.

But as Souza Dias and other experts indicated, Korea does not seem to have an option.

"If a user country doesn't ratify, they will still have to follow the rules. Ratifying it is better because you have to follow the rules, but you are at least at the negotiating table," he said.


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