EU Parliament adopts new ABS biodiversity rules in ‘landmark vote’

By Lucy Whitehouse

- Last updated on GMT

EU Parliament adopts new ABS biodiversity rules in ‘landmark vote’

Related tags: European union

The European Parliament has announced that it intends to fall into line with the rising global commitment to responsible sourcing of biological materials for research and development.

In the recent vote in Brussels, parliament members voted in new measures to monitor and support compliance with access to genetic resources and benefit-sharing (ABS) requirements.

The parliament also granted its consent for the EU to be legally bound by the Nagoya Protocol, which is the international agreement underpinning the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD).

These new regulations are expected to come into force in October 2014, and are set to have particular impact on the cosmetics industry, alongside the food, biotechnology and pharmaceutical sectors.


The new rules stipulate ‘due diligence’ requirements for EU companies involved in biodiversity-based research and development.

Companies conducting biodiversity-based research and development in the European Union will be required to ensure that the resources and any associated knowledge used comply with applicable ABS rules in the provider country.

Application of rules

When the Nagoya guidelines come into force, these companies will be required to build up and transfer relevant ABS information. This includes the date and place of materials access, their source and any subsequent uses, and compliance with any ABS requirements.

When there are uncertainties around ABS compliance, relevant permits must be obtained, or use of the materials in question discontinued.

Alongside this, EU member states will establish various declaration points, including during final stages of product development, for companies to announce their compliance with the requirements.

“The Parliament vote is a landmark vote that will significantly impact the way biodiversity based R&D is conducted in the food and cosmetics industry”​, María Julia Oliva, Senior Coordinator for Policy and Technical Support at the Union for Ethical BioTrade (UEBT), said in a statement.

Following suit

Biodiversity rich countries such as Brazil, South Africa, and India already enforce requirements on how companies access biological material for research and development, and how to share the monetary and non-monetary benefits resulting from new information, innovations or products.

The new EU rules on ABS aim to monitor and support compliance with these increasing ABS requirements around the world.

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