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International Committee: meeting on facilitated access for researchers to genetic resources

30.05.2011 - (idw) Akademie der Naturwissenschaften Schweiz (SCNAT)

At a workshop of the Committee on Freedom and Responsibility in the conduct of Science (CFRS) last Friday in Berne, Switzerland, it was asserted that researchers need access to plants and other genetic resources for non-commercial research. Research results are indispensable to maintain biodiversity. The meeting of international scientists took place at the Swiss Academy of Sciences (SCNAT) and forms the basis to sensibilise the international scientific community by the CFRS, a body of the International Council for Science (ICSU). The decisions adopted in Nagoya in 2010 on the so-called Access and Benefit Sharing (ABS) System, regulating the access to plants and other genetic resources, are currently being transposed into national law in many countries. But there is considerable flexibility in how these decisions can be legally interpreted. The meeting insisted that scientists must be involved in this process of drafting legislation. To ensure access to plants and other genetic ressources, their sustainable utilisation and the rights of the provider countries, measures are required on the part of the research community as well as governments. The SCNAT has been working on these issues over the past 10 years, the insights of which were reflected in the workshop.

According to an agreement concluded between ICSU and SCNAT last Friday, the SCNAT will host the CFRS Secretariat, thereby making a significant contribution at the international level to safeguarding freedom and responsibility of scientists in the conduct of their work.

Contacts:
- On CFRS: Dr Roger Pfister, Head, Department of International Cooperation, +41 31 310 40 23
- On ABS: Dr Susette Biber-Klemm, ABS Coordinator, +41 78 629 71 10
Press release: http://www.swiss-academies.org

The Swiss Academies of Arts and Sciences is an association of the Swiss Academy of Sciences (SCNAT), the Swiss Academy of Humanities and Social Sciences (SAHS), the Swiss Academy of Medical Sciences (SAMS), and the Swiss Academy of Engineering Sciences (SATW). It further compromises the centre of excellence for technology assessment (TA-SWISS) and Science et Cité as well as other scientific networks. The Swiss Academies of Arts and Sciences link sciences regionally, nationally and internationally. They represent the science communities disciplinary, interdisciplinary and independent of institutions and disciplines. Their network is oriented long-term and committed to scientific excellence. They advise politics and society in science-based issues relevant to society.

The International Council for Science (ICSU) is a non-governmental organisation with a global membership of national scientific bodies (121 Members, representing 141 countries) and International Scientific Unions (30 Members). Its mission is to strengthen international science for the benefit of society. To do this, ICSU mobilises the knowledge and resources of the international science community. The CFRS serves as the guardian of the ICSU Universality of Science Principle. This embodies freedom of movement, association, expression and communication for scientists, as well as equitable access to data, information and research materials. Equally important, it requires responsibility at all levels to carry out and communicate scientific work with integrity, respect, fairness, trustworthiness, and transparency. Weitere Informationen: http://www.icsu.org/about-icsu/structure/committees/freedom-responsibility http://www.icsu.org

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