Key Terms

Access: The acquisition of genetic resources or of traditional knowledge associated with genetic resources in a country that is a Party to the Nagoya Protocol.

Genetic resources: Any material of plant, animal, microbial or other origin containing functional units of heredity, and which is of actual or potential value. Under specific conditions derivatives can also be included as genetic resources even if they do not contain functional units of heredity: proteins, lipids, enzymes, RNA and organic compounds such as flavonoids, essential oils and plant resin. Human genetic resources are not included, but the human microbiome is.

Mutually Agreed terms (MAT): Agreement (contract) between a provider of genetic resources or associated traditional knowledge and a user, defining the conditions governing the use of genetic resources and benefit-sharing. Additional requirements may exist for subsequent users or change of intent, e.g. product development and commercialization.

Prior Informed Consent (PIC): Approval by the authorities of the providing country of access to and utilization of genetic resources, issued at the time of access as proof of compliance to applicable laws and regulations

Traditional knowledge associated with genetic resources: Knowledge held by an indigenous or local community that is relevant for the utilization of genetic resources and that is as such described in the mutually agreed terms applying to the utilization of genetic resources.

Utilization of genetic resources: To conduct research and development (R&D) on the genetic and/or biochemical composition of genetic resources, including through application of biotechnology. This includes basic and applied research.

It is not considered utilization under the EU ABS Regulation if genetic resources are solely kept, transferred or traded without additional research and/or development. Plus, mere descriptive work in phenotype-based research such as morphological analysis, or screening in themselves do not constitute utilization.

The maintenance and management of a collection for conservation purposes, including storage of resources or quality/phytopathology checks, and verification of material upon acceptance should therefore not as such be considered utilization. However, later use of the genetic resource may become utilization. For that reason it is advised to carefully keep information on the source of the material and the date of access and transfer this information to subsequent users.

Internationally recognized certificate of compliance (IRCC): A domestic access permit issued by a competent authority as evidence that the genetic resource(s) it covers has been accessed in accordance with the Prior Informed Consent, and that Mutually Agreed Terms have been established for the user and the utilization specified therein. The IRCC is made available to the ABS Clearing-House website.

(IT)PGRFA: The International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (ITPGRFA) of the United Nations is a binding treaty focused on ABS for 64 of our most important crops –crops that together account for 80 percent of all human consumption . Through the Treaty’s Multilateral System (MLS), countries agree to make their genetic diversity and related information about the crops stored in their gene banks available to all.

The full text of the treaty, including the list of species concerned, can be downloaded below.