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Digital Sequence Information (DSI)

 

 

Context:

  • At the ninth session of the Governing Body of the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (ITPGRFA), also known as Plant Treaty, India demanded deliberations on Digital Sequence Information (DSI) in Plant Treaty independent of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD).

Analysis

  • Digitized molecular data are vital to numerous aspects of scientific research and genetic resource use.
  • The Convention on Biological Diversity currently refers to this as “Digital Sequence Information” (DSI), a term not widely adopted by science and lacking a clear definition.
    Digital Sequence Information (DSI) plays a crucial role in catalyzing research applications that can contribute to international societal and biodiversity conservation targets.
  • However, benefit sharing relating to DSI is difficult to identify and hindered by the lack of clear international governance and legislation, which in turn has led to a reluctance to make DSI publicly and freely available.
  • Critically, no precise definition exists under the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), the Nagoya Protocol (NP), or the International Treaty for Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (ITPGRFA).
    • Two international agreements shape the conservation and use of plant genetic resources: the Convention on Biodiversity and the International Treaty for Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture.
  • The key difference between DSI and biological resources, for which access and use are highly regulated under those frameworks, is that information is non-physical.
    • Information can be replicated and used without movement of, or access to, physical specimens.
    • Thus, regulating the use of DSI is extremely challenging and remains controversial.
  • There are concerns over the access to genetic resources and absence of benefit sharing by provider countries.
    • Open access to DSI might exacerbate this, which is leading to increasing policy interventions and restricted access to genetic resources and DSI.

 


 

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