Why isn't the US a signatory of the Nagoya Protocol?



The Nagoya Protocol (2010; a supplement to the 1992 CBD convention) aims at the implementation of one of the three objectives of the CBD: the fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising out of the utilization of genetic resources, thereby contributing to the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity.

This is the Nagoya Protocol map for the Parties (i.e. ratification I believe, Blue), Signatories (Green), CBD party (Dark Grey), neither Nagoya or CBD (light grey).

Nagoya Protocol Parties and Signatories map

And this is the map for the CBD convention (Green means ratification, purple means signatory but without ratification, orange mean non-signatory).

CBD convention ratification map

The US has already implemented (I believe even before 2010) some of the Nagoya principles (link):

Yet the U.S. has long incorporated one of the protocol’s principles. NCI insists that before drug developers or researchers accept payment for genetic materials collected overseas, they must produce a statement declaring that they have permission to collect materials from there and export them.

The same article I linked for the previous quote also mentions possible problems with the patent system (a question for another day) among other issues but it keeps quoting elements from PhRMA (website) or BIO (website). The article is also from a magazine called GEN which stands for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology News.

Another article (from Berkeley Journal of International Law) seemed to point out that the US, in 2013, was half way into ratification. And I quote:

President Obama has remained largely non-committal to seeking ratification of the Convention or to signing the Nagoya Protocol. However, there are signs that the administration may push to ratify the treaty before the end of President Obama’s second term, as indicated by the Obama Administration’s position on genetic resource cases before the Supreme Court.


Perhaps the Justice Department’s position on the patentability of isolated genes indicates a willingness to accept the Convention’s broader goals, not only concerning genetics, but biological resources overall. With the Senate currently working with the aftershocks of a shutdown, it is unlikely that they will pick up the Convention or the Nagoya Protocol as a priority item, especially given that it has remained dormant since 1994.

The stakes are high. In a 2009 report by Business Communications Company, the global market for botanical and plant-derived drugs predicted an increase from $19.5 billion in 2008 to $33 billion in 2013, a growth rate much more aggressive than that of the Protocol’s signatories.

Do any of the US political parties have a well defined agenda regarding this issue? Has this decision been stalled due to lobbying from the previously mentioned trade organizations? What are the different agents advocating for or against ratification, and why?


Posted 2018-04-17T08:53:31.260

Reputation: 5 294

Could the users that down-voted (and voted to close this question as off-topic) elaborate on their reason(s)? How exactly is a question about the ratification of an international convention outside the scope of this site? – armatita – 2018-04-17T14:19:52.877

that is because it shows a down side of the usa. This is a US right wing web site. Already 2 close votes. – None – 2018-04-17T15:24:18.517

@why It doesn't necessarily show a downside of the US. There might be good reasons (or if not good at least strong) to avoid ratifying the agreement. The close votes are a bit unfortunate though. It requires at least 500 reputation to cast such a vote. – armatita – 2018-04-17T16:26:18.053

I would also like to add that this is not a politically charged question. If I knew the answer I wouldn't be posting it here. I did my research before writing it. In fact this is my second question ever in this site, and the first actually targets different nations in the EU (for which I'm a citizen) in a very similar context, and one could argue, for a far more serious subject. – armatita – 2018-04-17T16:29:27.690

@why Excellent baseless claim you've got there. – Gramatik – 2018-04-17T16:31:17.940



The United States is not a signatory on the Nagoya Protocol because a country must first ratify the original CBD agreement before it can become a signatory on the Nagoya Protocol.

The US often signs but then is unable to ratify international treaties because it only takes the President to sign a treaty but a two-thirds majority in the Senate to ratify, and it's very challenging to get two-thirds of senators to agree on anything.


Posted 2018-04-17T08:53:31.260

Reputation: 8 736

Thanks @Gramatik. I did see your first source (in fact I linked and quoted it in my question). I believe your second point to be in fact the most important one. I accept your answer. I would like to see some content specifically regarding the Nagoya protocol but all probabilities point to this being the answer. For other users, I checked on wikipedia, this is the Treaty Clause Gramatik mentioned.

– armatita – 2018-04-17T16:41:02.457