In DepthMARINE SCIENCE

U.N. tackles gene prospecting on the high seas

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Science  07 Sep 2018:
Vol. 361, Issue 6406, pp. 956-957
DOI: 10.1126/science.361.6406.956

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Summary

U.N. negotiators are meeting in New York City this week to begin formal negotiations aimed at creating an international agreement focused on protecting the high seas. A north-south split has developed on the issue of bioprospecting for valuable genes, most of which are from bacteria and other sea life found on the sea floor. Developing countries want to create a pact that declares the open ocean the "common heritage of mankind," and that creates means for countries that do bioprospecting, generally richer, developed countries, to compensate those that do not. But developed nations including the United States, Russia, and Japan oppose that language, fearing burdensome and unworkable regulations.