Research Support Activities

Access and Benefit-Sharing (ABS) of Genetic Resources

As Japan became party to the Nagoya Protocol, its domestic measures, the Guidelines on Access to Genetic Resources and the Fair and Equitable Sharing of Benefits Arising from their Utilization (ABS Guidelines) came into effect on August 20, 2017. Accordingly, researchers and students are required to comply with the ABS Guidelines in addition to the Convention on Biological Diversity and rules and regulations of provider countries of genetic resources.

Basic points

  • Natural life-forms (i.e., genetic resources) of a country must be treated as resources over which the country has rights.
  • It is necessary to obtain permission from the provider country of a genetic resource to utilize that genetic resource.
  • When benefits arise from utilization of the genetic resource, the benefits must be equitably shared by the provider country and user country.

General procedure for acquiring genetic resources

1.Faculty members who plan to engage in research activities in which genetic resources are used must consult the Intellectual Property Group when the research falls into the categories listed below. We cooperate with faculty members to decide on the necessity of taking some sort of measures, and we also check the rules that need to be followed. Faculty members may be required, under the Convention on Biological Diversity and the Nagoya Protocol, to follow the procedures for Prior Informed Consent (PIC)*2 and to establish Mutually Agreed Terms (MAT) with their counterparts in provider countries in accordance with the rules and regulations of those provider countries *1 as need arises. Faculty members may also be required to take domestic measures stipulated by the ABS Guidelines.

  • Research on genetic resources that originate overseas
  • Research on traditional knowledge that relates to overseas genetic resources
  • Research planned to be conducted in Japan by an international student on the genetic materials of his/her country
*1 Rules and regulations of provider countries: As it is difficult to examine rules and regulations of provider countries, faculty members must ask their counterparts in provider countries to examine the rules and regulations, and to take necessary measures. Also, there are cases where only the local language is used in various processes, including negotiations with the government of a provider country, and cases where a government does not allow foreigners to collect samples of genetic resources. Therefore, it is indispensable to have counterparts in provider countries.
*2 PIC: In some provider countries, there is no PIC or equivalent as laws and regulations are not yet in place. In such cases, faculty members do not need to follow the procedures for PIC, but they may still have to obtain permissions from provider countries to take certain species (rare species or useful species) or those originating from certain areas (e.g., national parks) out of the country.

2.When necessary, obtain PIC from the provider country, and establish MAT with your counterpart in the provider country before conducting the above research. These do not have to be specifically named PIC, MAT, or their equivalent. For example, a memorandum of understanding (MOU) will suffice. It is especially important to obtain signed documents issued by the government of the provider country.

3.When you have obtained PIC and MAT (or their equivalent), submit them to the Intellectual Property Group as the group manages them.

Copyright: Office of Research and Innovation, Tokyo Institute of Technology