French Parliament launches bill on the use of vegetal and animal genetic resources

The French Parliament is considering new legislation on biodiversity, which will affect companies in the cosmetics, pharmaceutical, and agri-food sectors that use genetic resources from vegetal, animals and micro-organisms.

Despite the existence of international conventions such as the Convention on Biologic Diversity, 1992 and the Nagoya Protocol, companies operating in France have until now been operating on a largely independently.

Yet to compliment existing EU Regulation, the France Parliament, as a significant provider and user of natural resources, has decided to frame its own national legislation to increase the level of regulation.

The new legislation will facilitate access to genetic resources for researchers and firms and will establish a clear legal framework for research and development.

Key feature of the legislation include:

  • Firms will need to gain approval from French authorities or local communities to access genetic resources.
  • New legislation will provide rules on how profits generated from genetic resources should be reinvested to preserve and restore biodiversity.
  • With regard to traditional knowledge associated with genetic resources, French public authorities will consult local communities in order to negotiate benefit-sharing contracts with the user and to manage the economic advantages for these communities.
  • The Bill introduces new rules for French companies, which are active abroad within signatory states of the Nagoya Protocol. These companies must prove to public authorities that their access to genetic resources and associated traditional knowledge is compliant with their international compliance certificate, which will be provided by the relevant authorities.
  • Non-compliance with French law on biodiversity will lead to a fine of 150,000 euros and up to one-year imprisonment. Any fraudulent commercial use will be subject to a fine of 1,000,000 euros.