Access and Benefit Sharing (ABS) is the fair and equitable distribution of benefits arising from the use of genetic resources and their related traditional knowledge.
Brief History Of ABS
The Access and Benefit Sharing (ABS) concept originated from the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) established in 1992 and ratified by Cameroon in 1994. ABS falls under the third objective of this international treaty coming to support the 1st and 2nd objectives, which focus on the conservation of genetic resources and sustainable use of their components.
WHERE DOES ABS APPLY?
ABS applies to the use of genetic materials and biochemical substances in living organisms through the production of extracts, essential oils, active ingredients, colours, flavours, etc within the framework of the ABS process. ABS does not however, apply to the use of every biodiversity. For instance it does not apply to the buying and selling of biological resources used as food and commodities.
Before CBD, collecting genetic resources and exporting out of the country was a normal practice that was carried out without any restrictions. Consequently, the host community never enjoyed any benefit but the User country involved in the exploitation, enjoyed all the benefits and profits resulting from the transformation of these resources into cosmetic, pharmaceutical and other products, without the prior consent of the host country. This further led to unsustainable exploitation of these resources. With the coming the ABS Process, this exploitation malpractices by the User Country changed as new regulations were put in place within the context of ABS to regulate the use of genetic resources, making sure that benefits derived from such use are distributed equitably across the chain.