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Proposal for a microbial semi-commons: Perspectives from the International Cooperative Biodiversity Groups Flora Katz, Ph.D. Fogarty International Center.

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Presentation on theme: "Proposal for a microbial semi-commons: Perspectives from the International Cooperative Biodiversity Groups Flora Katz, Ph.D. Fogarty International Center."— Presentation transcript:

1 Proposal for a microbial semi-commons: Perspectives from the International Cooperative Biodiversity Groups Flora Katz, Ph.D. Fogarty International Center National Institutes of Health National Academy of Sciences October 9, 2009

2 Potential of microbes for bioenergy- why look abroad? The ICBG Model Challenges and considerations Discussion points for microbial semi- commons

3 Is access to collections from low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) important? >99% of global microbial diversity unknown and “unculturable” Micro-organisms are not uniformly distributed Developing countries among most bio-diverse on macroscopic level- likely to translate to micro- organisms Have already discovered many new micro- organisms, including new genera and species of actinomycetes, and many promising drug leads from these countries Biodiversity threatened and culture collections are not secure in most of these countries

4 Patagonian tree fungus,Gliocladium roseum, expels hydrocarbon gas which could be used as fuel Thai scientists discover new species of algae that can be used to produce biodiesel Biomass-degrading fungus from Solomon Islands (genome sequence, DOE) Swamp forest In Borneo cleared to plant oil palms for biofuel Leads and challenges in LMICs

5 Two relevant models at NIH for microbe collections from LMIC’s National Cancer Institute: Letter of Collection –Contract collections for cancer and HIV screening –Materials managed by USG –Standard MOU and MTA with commercialization trigger International Cooperative Biodiversity Groups –Investigator-initiated grants for collections and research –Materials managed by grantees –Unique MOUs and MTAs

6 International Cooperative Biodiversity Groups (ICBG): A Systems Approach Benefits Biodiversity Conservation BioDiscovery

7 ICBG Sponsors: Diverse Missions Benefits ( USAID ) Biodiversity Conservation ( NSF; USDA; NOAA ) BioDiscovery NIH : Drugs USDA: Agrochemicals DOE:Bioenergy NOAA: All NIH: National Institutes of Health USDA: US Dept. of Agriculture DOE: Dept. of Energy NOAA: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration USAID: US Agency for International Development NSF: National Science Foundation

8 Rationale Cost-effective Mitigate risk for sponsors Increase probability of discovery Increase impact Protect the resource for future discovery Photo by Mark Hay

9 ICBG Teams: public-private partnerships Academic Institutions in US and LMIC Pharmaceutical, Biotechnology, and Agrochemical Companies Government entities Non-governmental organizations Local communities Photo by Don Hahn

10 Microbial Collections: Costa Rica* Panama Fiji* Uzbekistan Tajikistan Kyrgystan Madagascar Philippines* Indonesia* Papua New Guinea Plant-based Collections: Chile Argentina Mexico Vietnam Laos Nigeria Cameroon Peru * Bioenergy collections ICBG: Source Organisms

11 Considerations in Agreements Guidance consistent with CBD for –Prior informed consent –Access and Benefit sharing (ABS) agreements –Permits, MTAs, and other government documents Each country has unique laws or none Shifting regulations and political landscape Easiest to negotiate as academic research with “commercialization trigger” Average 1-2 years to negotiate ICBGs have set precedents, allowed on-the- ground experiments in ABS, and contributed to national policy in multiple countries

12 Terms of access to microbial resources: two models Microbes cannot leave the provider country or they can leave only if accompanied by a country of origin scientist Isolated and identified microbial cultures can leave the country under the terms negotiated, for the specific purposes described, and to the parties designated; no third party access without written agreement; all information confidential except with written agreement. Chain of custody documentation. Time limit to destroy, return, or re-negotiate possession of materials.

13 Benefits High Risk and Long-term Milestone payments and royalties from a commercialized product/Trust Funds Protection of biodiversity Products that increase the public health or provide benefits to Society Low Risk and Near-term Scientific capacity: training, technology transfer, infrastructure Research collaboration (leverage) Local economic benefits (jobs, micro-enterprise)

14 Discussion points for a semi-commons I Whose Benefit? –Unequal playing field –If LMICs see themselves mainly as providers and not users of the commons, then open access premise of mutual benefit moot. Act of provision must be balanced by a non-equivalent benefit. –Suggest include both near-term (e.g. culture collection capacity such as Global Biological Resource Centre Network demonstration project) and long-term (commercialization-triggered) benefits –Contribute to global good by protecting the resource

15 Discussion points for a semi-commons II Who should benefit? Who owns biodiversity? –Who has authority to provide cultures? May ultimately be only governments or their agents –Who should receive the benefits? If near term, could go into building national resource center (like Trust Fund model). For long term, more problematic to identify the appropriate stakeholders –Ramped IPR: derivatives; rich associated datasets; etc. Is one standard benefit enough?

16 Discussion points for a semi-commons III Documented chain of custody critical –To use benefit as incentive, necessary to track and acknowledge origin of materials –Community of trust tenuous- all users need to be documented and give formal consent to terms and conditions –No informal third party transfers of materials or derivatives

17 Discussion points for a semi-commons IV Progress towards a commons may need to be incremental for these countries to gain experience with the concept and develop trust Need to weigh transaction costs against need to protect the resource- transaction costs may serve as an incentive for conservation and stewardship

18 Panama ICBG New World Heritage Site JACS (2008) 130, 6324 Photo by Marcy Balunas

19 For further information on the ICBG program see: research_grants/icbg/index.htm

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