[ASC-media] ASC Media Alert

Wendy Ellery w.ellery at aims.gov.au
Thu Nov 27 09:28:10 EST 2003

MEDIA RELEASE	27 November 2003

International bio-discovery committee seeks AIMS expertise to help 
industry prevent bio-piracy

An international bio-discovery committee has enlisted the expertise 
of Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS) biotechnologist 
Libby Evans-Illidge to help shape world first guidelines on 

For the past three decades the quest for new drugs and other products 
derived from the marine environment has been impeded by a lack of 
workable regulations governing access to resources and benefit 

AIMS is the world acclaimed leader in facilitating and participating 
in bio-discovery research in a way that ensures conservation of the 
resource, equitable benefit sharing, and maximum benefit to the 
country of origin.

International authorities are looking to learn from the Australian 
experience and have invited Libby Evans-Illidge, the only Australian, 
to join the "Access and Benefit Sharing Management Tool Advisory 
Committee" which will convene its first face-to-face talks in 
Montreal later this week.

Australia holds a unique position being the only country that is both 
"mega-biodiverse" and developed, with advanced scientific 
infrastructure and a vibrant bio-technology industry.

Most of the other 'mega-biodiverse' nations are poor third world 
countries concerned that companies from wealthy developed countries 
will exploit their raw materials and traditional knowledge without 
adequate returns. It's behaviour the industry has dubbed 
"bio-piracy", said Ms Evans-Illidge.

"Governments of these developing nations have an enormous fear that 
the lack of regulatory framework leaves them vulnerable to 

"The Montreal committee meeting hopes to establish a standard for 
companies to adhere to that upholds the Convention on Biological 
Diversity (CBD). Such a tool will help developing countries weed out 
bio-pirates and quickly identify those following the terms of the 

The Montreal project is an initiative of the Swiss Government aimed 
at implementing the Convention on Biological Diversity.

AIMS has established landmark agreements with industry and 
governments on access to bio-diversity and benefit sharing, and has 
provided major input into State and Federal Government policy and 

In her address to the meeting Libby Evans-Illidge will explain how 
the institute has juggled the nexus between public interest and 
commercial realities.

"I will emphasise the need for industry partners to invest in 
capacity for research and development in countries of origin, and to 
secure marine samples and collections in a custodian arrangement, as 
AIMS has done," she said.

Libby Evans-Illidge will also be part of an Australian delegation 
attending a United Nations working group on biological diversity to 
be held in Montreal.

Media Contacts:
Libby Evans-Illidge, AIMS Research Scientist, Ph: (07) 4778 5982., 
Mob - from 28th November: 0407 930 865, email: 
e.evansillidge at aims.gov.au
Wendy Ellery, AIMS Media liaison, Ph: (07) 4753 4409, email: 
w.ellery at aims.gov.au

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