The Access and Benefit-Sharing Agreement on Teff Genetic Resources: Facts and Lessons
Regine Andersen and Tone Winge
Fridtjof Nansen Institute Report 6/2012, October 2012 | ISBN: 978-82-7613-646-3

This report tells the story of an agreement on access to teff genetic resources in Ethiopia, and the fair and equitable sharing of benefits derived from their use, that was hailed as one of the most advanced of its time. This agreement between the Ethiopian Institute of Biodiversity Conservation and the Dutch company Health and Performance Food International was entered into in 2005. It was seen as a pilot case of the implementation the Convention on Biological Diversity in terms of access and benefit sharing, and expectations were high. And yet, implementation of the agreement failed. The Dutch company was declared bankrupt in 2009. And, as a result of several circumstances, Ethiopia was left with fewer possibilities for generating and sharing the benefits from the use of teff genetic resources than ever before. This report provides an in-depth analysis of the course of events with regard to the agreement as well as a related patent on the processing of teff, and concludes by deriving recommendations concerning future access and benefit-sharing agreements as well as for the implementation of the Convention on Biological Diversity. The recommendations address: strengthening of the CBD Clearing-house Mechanism by introducing a separate entity providing information on bioprospecting applicants in order for provider countries to assess the applicant’s professionalism; establishment of a CBD ombudsman facility to assist and support provider countries in cases of alleged violations against ABS agreements or establishment of a Third Party Beneficiary as the one established under the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture; assigning ABS focal points in user countries the responsibility for providing access to the legal system in their countries for provider countries; and organization of national workshops in user countries for companies working with genetic resources and bioprospecting. Download the report [pdf] …