Regulating Information in Molecules: The Convention on Biological Diversity and Digital Sequence Information
The United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity and its subsequent Nagoya Protocol on Access to Genetic Resources and the Fair and Equitable Sharing of Benefits Arising from their Utilization to the Convention on Biological Diversity provide a framework to conserve biological diversity, sustainably use biodiversity components and fairly and equitably share their benefits. There is unresolved contention about treating information as a derivative of biological materials and a distinct commodity with a value that can be translated into definable benefits. This article addresses whether there is information in DNA sequences, finding that there is causal information but no intentional or semantic information, although the causal contribution remains difficult to determine. This article concludes that caution should be exercised in limiting access to information in DNA through regulation because of the perverse outcomes controlling potential uses and reducing incentives for others to use information in new and innovative ways.