Practical consequences of digital sequence information (DSI) definitions and access and benefit‐sharing scenarios from a plant genebank’s perspective

M. Brink*, T.J.L. van Hintum*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


It is currently discussed whether the use of digital sequence information (DSI) on genetic resources would need to be subject to access and benefit-sharing obligations, like the use of genetic resources. In this paper, we analyse the consequences of genebank management of DSI definitions currently considered, and of scenarios proposed for dealing with the access and benefit-sharing aspects of DSI.
The analysis is based on publicly accessible literature and experiences of and discussions with genebank managers, researchers and experts on genetic resources policies. The key findings are as follows:
- the definition of DSI is still disputed and definitions currently considered vary from only the base sequence of genomic DNA to all information associated with genetic resources;
- four groups of scenarios proposed for arranging the access and benefit-sharing aspects of DSI can be distinguished, with these scenarios differing in their benefit-sharing modalities, technical feasibility, the complexity they generate and thus the ease of access to information and genetic resources;
- from a genebank perspective, the scenario generating the lowest complexity and the easiest access to DSI would be preferable.
It is concluded that the multilateral and the free access scenarios seem most beneficial for genebanks, as these scenarios limit the complexity for users and allow easy access and use. We are aware of the political difficulties to arrive at these solutions, but hope this paper will contribute to guiding the discussions in a direction that will be beneficial for genebanks, for users of genebank materials and information, and ultimately for addressing the challenges to present and future food security.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)23-32
JournalPlants, People, Planet
Issue number1
Early online date2 May 2021
Publication statusPublished - 2022


  • Access and Benefit Sharing (ABS)
  • Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD)
  • digital sequence information (DSI)
  • genebanks
  • International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (ITPGRFA)
  • Nagoya Protocol


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