What are genetic resources?

The term genetic resources refers to any biological material which contains genes and/or metabolic material that may be derived from genes. They fall within the scope of the Nagoya Protocol whenever they are used for research or product development.

The Nagoya Protocol applies to the genetic resources of all organisms, excluding humans, within all the geographical areas of the contract parties. The Nagoya Protocol does not determine the genetic resources specifically, but in accordance with the Convention on Biological Diversity, genetic material and genetic resources are defined as follows: ‘Genetic material’ refers to any material of plant, animal, microbial or other origin containing functional units of heredity. ‘Genetic resources’ refer to genetic material of actual or potential value.  Decree number 511/2014 of the European Parliament and the Council (EU 2014) uses these same definitions.

In practice, this means any biological matter, if research and/or product development activities are targeted at its genes or the metabolic product derived from them. However, the different countries may have different interpretations of genetic resources. If the interpretations of the definitions used by countries are different from each other, the interpretation by the country of origin will be applied.