“The political debate surrounding digital sequence information (DSI) on genetic resources under the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) has garnered immense interest and raised concern across the international scientific community. At the last CBD Conference of the Parties (COP 14), parties formally “agreed to resolve their differences” and, thus, with COP 15 set for October 2021, a decision on DSI and access and benefit-sharing (ABS) approaches.
Disrupting the flow of open DSI has the potential to not only severely hinder basic research and biodiversity conservation, but also innovation more broadly. This includes science and technology that addresses challenges in food security, health, biodiversity loss, and climate change worldwide, which could ultimately undermine progress on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). What’s at stake is best highlighted by the global SARS-CoV-2 pandemic: diagnostic kits within weeks of virus discovery, vaccines ten months later, and ongoing surveillance for variants, all possible thanks to rapid DNA sequencing and open DSI….”