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Saturday, Oct. 23, 2010

Resource-sharing deal eludes at conference

Staff writer

NAGOYA — Delegates to the COP10 biodiversity conference said Friday they had made steady progress toward concluding a new international agreement on access to genetic resources and sharing their benefits, but noted long-standing differences continued to keep this goal at arm's length.

With senior ministers from about 120 countries due to arrive Wednesday for a three-day parley, delegates were preparing to work through the weekend to iron out their differences on a 20-page draft protocol to set new rules on parties seeking to gain access to plant, animal and other genetic materials often found on the lands of indigenous peoples.

Progress was reported on a number of issues that have divided countries with large indigenous populations and vast genetic resources, including tropical rain forests, and developed countries seeking access to those resources.

But large sections of the draft remain in contention. Negotiators are racing to find common ground before ministers arrive Wednesday.

"Although there have been extensive efforts made by the negotiators on the text, they have not been able to come up with a final draft. The group will continue to meet and report their results next Tuesday," Environment Minister Ryu Matsumoto told a Friday evening press conference.

More than 20 of the protocol's 30 articles have been agreed upon, said Ahmed Djoghalf, executive secretary of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). But some issues COP10 is striving to agree on have remained unresolved since the CBD was formed 17 years ago.

These include the scope of an access and benefit-sharing pact, and whether it should include certain genetic resources, including human ones and human pathogens, and whether to seek informed consent from indigenous peoples to access resources on their lands.

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The Japan Times

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