A global treaty on the harvesting of genetic resources will probably be ratified by July 2012, the UN executive secretary on biological diversity said Tuesday.
So far, 25 countries have signed the Nagoya Protocol but 193 countries committed to support it when it was adopted in October 2010, said UN official Ahmed Djoghlaf.
"By July 2012, 50 will have ratified," said Djoghlaf at the sidelines of a biodiversity forum in the Philippines.
He said the protocol, forged at a conference in Japan, comes into force as a treaty once it is ratified by 50 countries.
The agreement sets out new rules for the collection of genetic resources such as wild plants to make medicines, cosmetics and other products.
It also calls for a fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising from the use of genetic resources between the company that develops the new product and the country where the resources -- such as a wild plant -- originated.
Djoghlaf said the ratification of the protocol was being slowed by legal complications and translation problems but that there was more than enough support for it among countries.
"All governments have different ratification processes. It's not a matter of a lack of political will," he told AFP.
He said the protocol would encourage countries to preserve their natural resources in hopes that they would benefit if medicines or other products are made from them.
He cited the example of the vaccine for avian flu which is derived from an organism from China but which was developed by a Swiss company, and added that 76 percent of cancer drugs were derived from natural or partly-natural sources.
Djoghlaf said many countries failed to realise the value of their biological diversity, leading to its waste and destruction.
He cited studies from The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity, a UN-supported group of scholars who estimated that about $3 trillion-worth of biodiversity is lost each year.
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