News and Updates

New Article on Genetic Sequence Data: Open access to genetic sequence data maximizes value to scientists, farmers, and society


As sequencing technology has advanced, the ability of scientists to rapidly generate large quantities of genetic sequence data (GSD) has greatly improved. These data are often made freely available through online databases such as those provided by the International Nucleotide Sequence Database Collaboration. With vast amounts of information now easily and freely accessible, questions have arisen over how these data should be regulated—or if they should be regulated at all.

For nearly five years, debate has ensued over the potential inclusion of GSD in an access and benefit-sharing (ABS) scheme. In a July publication in the journal Global Food Security, Jim Gaffney and colleagues argue that open access to GSD is critical to improving food security and sustainability and promoting equity in science. To illustrate, they describe four crops commonly grown in Africa and demonstrate how access to GSD has the potential to revolutionize their production, thereby improving food security in a region with a rapidly growing population. Furthermore, the authors claim that the data alone have minimal value without considerable investment by researchers or additional information, such as phenotypic data. Therefore, open access to GSD presents little risk of inequitable benefit sharing. To introduce excessive regulation and monetization to GSD systems, the authors argue, is to cause a drastic slowdown of essential research progress and an exacerbation of an imbalance that already exists between those who are able to produce and use GSD and those who are not.

Read this article in The Global Food Security Journal on ScienceDirect: Open access to genetic sequence data maximizes value to scientists, farmers, and society

Article summary by Anna Weber

Gaffney, Jim, et al. “Open Access to Genetic Sequence Data Maximizes Value to Scientists, Farmers, and Society.” Global Food Security, vol. 26, 31 July 2020, p. 100411., doi:10.1016/j.gfs.2020.100411.

ESA Webinar – Intro to the Nagoya Protocol and Learning Portal


“What You Need to Know about the Nagoya Protocol, Access, and Benefit-sharing When Planning Your Research” Presented By: Patrick Reilly, U.S. Department of State; and Rachel Meyer, University of California, Santa Cruz Watch the recording here.

Whether or not you conduct international research, the Nagoya Protocol, along with issues of access and benefit-sharing, should be a part of every researcher’s thinking. The Nagoya Protocol is a multilateral treaty that sets up the legal framework for utilizing genetic resources. This treaty has important implications on research and should be considered when thinking about how to conduct research, manage collections, and work with partners. Learn more about the Nagoya Protocol, what it says (and what it doesn’t), how it impacts scientists’ work presently, and in the future, and how the US government can help. Patrick Reilly, the US Nagoya Focal Point based at the US State Department, and Rachel Meyer from UC Santa Cruz will join us to explain what the Nagoya Protocol is, how to productively engage with it and what resources are available to you. They will take questions following the presentation.

Patrick is a Foreign Affairs Officer with the U.S. Department of State, serving in the Office of Conservation and Water in Bureau of Oceans, Environment, and Scientific Affairs. In this role, he serves as the U.S. Focal Point for Nagoya, and the Department’s expert on access and benefit-sharing (ABS) issues. He works on genetic resource issues across various multilateral instruments, including the Convention on Biodiversity (CBD), the Nagoya Protocol (NP), the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (ITPGRFA), the Pandemic Influenza Pandemic Framework (PIP), and the Biodiversity Beyond National Borders (BBND) negotiations.

Rachel Meyer is an adjunct assistant professor in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of California, Santa Cruz. Her research is in ethnobotany, crop genomics, and metagenomics. She has been the executive director of the UC Conservation Genomics Consortium since 2016 and works closely with the Earth BioGenome Project.


Webinar about the Nagoya Protocol from the US Government


The American Institute for Biological Sciences presents a webinar presentation by Patrick Reilly from the US State Dept titled “LIFE FINDS A WAY: AN OVERVIEW OF THE NAGOYA PROTOCOL FROM THE U.S. GOVERNMENT“.  In case you missed it, you can watch the video HERE.

China to host the meeting where the new decadal biodiversity targets will be drafted


The upcoming Conference of the Parties, where ~200 countries gather to coordinate action plans to slow the incredible loss of biodiversity worldwide, will be hosted by China in November 2020. Read an overview of the process and history of these meetings, as well as benchmark achievements and failures, HERE.

To see where the Conference of the Parties have been in the past, and what their all about, check out THIS PAGE from the United Nations.

Rooibos tea: profits will be shared with Indigenous communities


Nature Publishing covered the agreement finally reached between the Khoi and San people and the South African government to share the benefits of the rooibos tea industry. Rooibos is a traditional beverage and medicine from Southern Africa. Read the article HERE.

The Botanical Society of America announces financial support for


The BSA Board of Directors agreed to provide $2500 to support the development of this website. Thank you! As a community of practice space to help each other, we appreciate societies backing the website and sharing it with their members.

Societies are contributing funds to help build this website!


We recently received support from the Society for the Preservation of Natural History Collections, the Phycological Society of America, and the American Society of Mammalogists. Thank you for your support!

The Trondheim Conference on Biodiversity this July


Read CBD Executive Secretary Dr. Cristiana Paşca Palmer’s opening statements HERE.

The report produced at the conference will be soon available HERE.

From the conference website:

“Since 1993 Trondheim Conferences on Biodiversity have created opportunities for increasing understanding amongst stakeholders about issues on the biodiversity agenda. They allow those involved in setting the agenda to learn and to share views and experiences with their peers.

The ninth Trondheim Conference will bring together decision-makers and experts from around the world to learn about and discuss knowledge and know-how for the global post-2020 biodiversity framework. The Conference will directly support the process established by the Convention on Biological Diversity for preparing this framework, with opportunities for major players to discuss key issues informally outside of the negotiation process.”

We’re new and under construction


This learning portal is under construction! We will be launched and fully functional in May, in time for conference season!

Connecting with Nagoya Protocol and International Treaty Experts


We are working with colleagues at the Global Genome Biodiversity Network who have developed great resources for understanding the Nagoya Protocol. Check them out! GGBN ABS FAQ

We need your input!


Researchers, teachers, and collections managers are contributing photos and stories of their experiences setting up agreements and collaborations around their own biology research and resource development. Old and new stories welcome. Please contribute and join the community! Get in touch.

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