[ASC-media] ASC Media Alert
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
"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.
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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