Accessing Genetic Resources in Canada

Glossary and key concepts

The following terms are ones which appear throughout the text. The descriptions provided here are meant to provide a quick, general reference guide as to what these mean in the context of ABS policy in Canada, and do not necessarily represent formal, legal definitions of these terms.

Core elements
The elements of an ABS policy which would be common across all the different possible approaches - prior informed consent - PIC - and mutually agreed terms (including benefit sharing agreements/arrangements) - MAT.

Facilitated access
Expresses the concept that any ABS system that is developed should be designed in a way that makes the rules for accessing genetic resources as clear and simple as possible, and that avoids placing too much of a burden on those seeking access.

Genetic Resources
Genetic material of actual or potential value, which includes any material of plant, animal, microbial or other origin containing functional units of heredity. Genetic resources contain genes that can be inherited or moved into other organisms, such as plants, animals, fungi, viruses and bacteria.

Mutually Agreed Terms including benefit sharing agreements or arrangements (MAT)
Terms, approved by the provider and the user of genetic resources, which lay out how the access to the genetic resource can take place, and how the benefits which may result from the use of genetic resources are shared. For example, mutually agreed terms may include, among other things, the type and quantity of genetic resources which can be collected, or limitations on the possible use of the material (e.g. for research purposes only). Benefits can be broad and multi-layered, and include monetary payments as well as non-monetary benefits such as sharing new knowledge and technologies.

Prior Informed Consent (PIC)
Measures to ensure that both the provider and the user know what is being accessed and why before consent to access is given, and before that access takes place.

Traditional Knowledge Associated with genetic resources
The knowledge, innovations and practices of Aboriginal communities that are associated with the use of genetic resources, which are held in common, in confidence and are not in the public domain.