The Nagoya Protocol is an international treaty that is based on the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), promoted by the UN at the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development, and more particularly on one of its three objectives: fair participation and equitable in the benefits derived from the use of genetic resources. The Nagoya Protocol is a milestone in the governance of biodivertity, but it will be very relevant for all those actors in the agri-food industry, whether or not they have commercial interests, whose activities involve the use and exchange of genetic resources, by creating a new paradigm regarding the acces and management of these materials that are essential for their activity. 

The Nagoya Protocol seeks to establish access and participation to the benefits that a genetic resource can generate that can become a commercial product, for the country in which said resource was collected. For this, it establishes the framework that governments, of the countries that sign the Protocol, must follow when developing their corresponding legislation that will establish the mechanisms and procedures that a user must follow to access the use of any genetic resource that can be collect within its territory, through informed consent, in which the terms and conditions of access and use of this resource must be collected through the establishment of mutually agreed terms. Said agreements must include formulas for the distribution of the benefits derived from the use of the resource.

In summary, any entity – whether public or private, is dedicated simply to research, or its ultimate goal is the development of new food or nutraceutical products – that will interact with a genetic resource, must previously reach an agreement with the country of origin of said resource if you want to access legal use of it.


Although more than 150 countries have ratified the Nagoya Protocol, there are countries such as the US, Brazil or Canada that, for different reasons, oppose it; which will lead to very heterogeneous legislative frameworks.


The problem comes when these entities must face the public administrations of different countries and / or territories – for example in Spain there is a part of the competencies in biodiversity management that are transferred to the Autonomous Communities and some of the African governments and Latin Americans have delegated the management of these resources to indigenous communities – when undertaking a project that involves the use of a genetic resource that may be present in more than one territory; or that said resource is present in a country that has ratified the Nagoya Protocol and in another that has not legislated on the matter; or that, directly, cannot determine the origin of said genetic resource.

For the agri-food industries, a complex scenario opens up, which will impose new barriers for the development of their activity, and will require them to have an appropriate partner to support them in appropriately circumventing the challenges they face when entering force of the Nagoya Protocol.