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Crop Biotech Update

UN Urged to Ensure Open Access to Plant Genomic Data

April 8, 2015

Dr. Norman Warthmann, plant geneticist from The Australian National University (ANU), has called for the United Nations (UN) to guarantee free and open access to plant DNA sequences to enable scientists to continue working on sustainably intensifying world food production.

He said that food security depends on acceleration in plant breeding, which could be threatened by private companies restricting access to genomic information. Dr. Warthmann said, "This information is a public good, it would be a tragedy and a big setback if commercial interests over-ride the freedom of the data. We must ensure this data is available without restrictions."

He has lodged a submission with the UN, which is currently considering issues to include in its 2015 Global Sustainable Development Report. Together with Dr. Claudio Chiarolla, from Institut du Développement Durable et des Relations Internationales (IDDRI) in Paris, Dr. Warthmann has submitted a policy brief to the UN, urging the ambiguous legal situation to be clarified. The crowd-sourced science brief is currently open for public comment.

For more information, read the news release at the ANU website.