Commission on Biological Control and Access and Benefit Sharing


Dr Peter Mason, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada,


Introduction and task of commission

Under the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) countries have sovereign rights over their genetic resources. Agreements governing the access to these resources and the sharing of the benefits arising from their use need to be established between involved parties (i.e. Access and Benefit Sharing (ABS)). This also applies to species collected for potential use in biological control. Recent applications of CBD principles have already made it difficult or impossible to collect and export natural enemies for biological control research in several countries. If such an approach is widely applied it would impede this very successful and environmentally safe pest management method based on the use of biological diversity. Therefore, in October 2008, IOBC established its Global Commission on Biological Control and Access and Benefit Sharing, with the mission to provide scientific advice to oversee and advise the design and implementation of an Access and Benefit Sharing (ABS) regime that ensures practical and effective arrangements for the collection and use of Biological Control Agents (BCAs) which are acceptable to all parties involved in this issue.  This mission will be realised by:

  • Increasing scientific knowledge in the area of Biological Control (BC) and ABS;

  • Documenting the potential for negative consequences of adopting strict regulations about ABS of BCAs;

  • Transferring the knowledge concerning the question of ABS to the scientific community, stakeholders and international parties;

  • Developing linkages/agreements with international partners (CBD, FAO, CABI, ANBP, IBMA, and CGIAR);

  • Promoting the development and application of new international conventions on BC and ABS which respect the CBD.

Shortly after the establishment of the IOBC Commission, the Commission on Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (CGRFA) of FAO (Food and Agriculture organisation of the United Nations) approached IOBC with the request to write a report on ‘The use and exchange of biological control agents for food and agriculture’. This report appeared in October 2009 and summarized the past and current situation regarding the practice of biological control in relation to the use and exchange of BCAs and ABS. FAO report (pdf).

The IOBC report to FAO minimized political statements, to focus on a factual summary. The Commission on Biological Control and ABS thought it was essential to present these issues to the biological control community, as an important part of this community is still unaware or just beginning to understand the possible implications of ABS. Therefore, the Commission wrote a forum article for the journal BioControl’. This paper deliberately takes a more political stance and takes an advocacy role on behalf of the IOBC community. BiCo paper and additional material (pdf).

The IOBC Commission will continue its work with the drafting of a document describing best practices for ABS in relation to biological control including guidelines for joint research that are equitable, but not restrictive.


Logo: International Organisation for Biological Control (IOBC)