IDB: Government halted research permits as it moved to plug loophole

IDB: Government halted research permits as it moved to plug loophole

NASSAU, BAHAMAS — The Bahamas issued no research permits in 2019 and 2020 as the government moved to plug a loophole that has enabled foreign exploitation of this nation’s biological and genetic resources without compensation, the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) has noted.

The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), in a paper accompanying its latest $140m loan to The Bahamas for “Boosting resilient and inclusive growth”,  noted that this nation used to issue between 60 and 70 research permits per year.

Reportedly, 90 percent of those permits were issued to foreign institutions (mostly the United States and Canada), enabling access to genetic resources in the marine environment.

“Around 125 new natural products were discovered in Bahamian EEZ in the 2000s,” the report read.

“Research initiatives applied for US patents for a marine microbe originating from The Bahamas, the production of biomolecules with this specific Bahamian strain and their use as pharmaceuticals. These inventions based on a Bahamian genetic resource might be developed in commercially successful drugs. Due to the lack of a regulatory ABS regime in The Bahamas and appropriate contractual ABS provisions, almost no benefits are flowing back from of utilization and commercialization of Bahamian genetic resources. Due to this fact, no permits have been issued in 2019 and 2020 until the new legislation is in place.”

Earlier this year, the government introduced legislation – the Biological Resources and Traditional Knowledge Bill – to ensure that this nation receives fair and equitable benefits for its genetic resources.