Biodiversity: Origin of genetic material to be disclosed in patent applications
As probably the first industrialized country, Denmark has introduced legislation requiring patent applications to disclose the origin of genetic material used in inventions, e.g. genetically modified organisms (GMOs) where this is known.
The purpose is to support the principle laid down in the 1992 UN Convention on Biological Diversity concerning national sovereignty over genetic material. The provisions of the Convention imply that access to genetic material is subject to prior informed consent by the government of the providing country, which may also stipulate conditions for its use. The Convention thereby aims to promote fairer and more equitable distribution of the benefits derived from genetic material between countries providing the material, typically the developing countries, and the exploiters of the material, typically the industrialized countries.
Since the industrialized world now allows patents on some life forms in order to stimulate modern biotechnology, the developing countries fear that patents may be granted for inventions such as GMOs and new types of medicine based on raw genetic material “stolen” from them in violation of the Convention on Biological Diversity. The requirement for disclosure of the origin of genetic material encompassed by patent applications is intended to encourage users not to acquire and exploit genetic material without the approval of the country of origin.
Further information: Christian Prip, National Forest and Nature Agency. Phone: +45 3947 2659. E-mail: email@example.com
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