Dear friends and colleagues,

We are pleased to present a new report on the implications of digital gene banks for access and benefit sharing (ABS) related to genetic resources. 

The report titled "Digital genebankers plan to ignore UN request on the impact of genomics and synthetic biology on access and benefit sharing" by Edward Hammond of Prickly Research focuses on DivSeek ( This gene back had raised concerns at the 2015 meeting of the Governing Council of the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (ITPGRFA). Accordingly, DivSeek was asked by governments of the ITPGRFA to report on how technologies to deep sequence, database, and electronically distribute the genomes of hundreds of thousands of crop seeds will impact ABS for genetic resources. However, documents obtained by Hammond shows that key players in DivSeek are planning to ignore this call for accountability while actively courting multinational seed corporations such as Syngenta as part of its business model..

The issues raised by digital gene banking go well beyond the list of crops in Annex 1 of the ITPGRFA, and is thus of direct relevance to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and its Nagoya Protocol on access and benefit sharing. The CBD's Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice (SBSTTA) will be meeting in Montreal on 25 to 30 April and we hope that this report will provide timely input for work under the agenda item on synthetic biology.

The report stresses that "the emerging gap in the application of access and benefit sharing rules between physical and digital access to genetic resources must be closed", and calls on governments to "immediately move to regulate access and benefit sharing for sequence data and related information, even if digital genebankers are reluctant to cooperate."

Please note that this is a preliminary report and it will be supplemented in the coming weeks and prior to the beginning of the CBD SBSTTA meeting. Records obtained by the author under the US Freedom of Information Act that are referenced in this report may be viewed at:

In due course, the full set of DivSeek documents obtained under US and Canadian open records laws will be posted at the above URL.

The preliminary report is attached and also available at: (

Edward Hammond can be directly contacted at: or by telephone at +1 325 347 2829.

With best wishes,
Third World Network