The Nagoya Protocol enters into force 90 days after it is signed by 50 states.
"We hope to get them (the 50 signatures) before the end of the year," the Montreal-based organization's spokesman David Ainsworth told AFP.
Adopted in October 2010 at a conference in Nagoya, Japan, the protocol 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.
Coveted by drug and other companies in developed nations, these materials are mostly found in developing nations such as Brazil with its treasure trove of resources in the Amazon basin.
The legally binding protocol ensures that countries with genetic resources enjoy some of the profits of the assets' commercial development.
However, many details of the protocol, such as how much this may cost pharmaceutical companies and developed nations, were left for later negotiations.
It's that "later negotiations" which may turn into a serious problem. Republicans of course will make sure the United States isn't a signatory to Nagoya and will refuse to ratify it, which will of course cause major headaches down the road for both the government and for pharmaceutical companies here in the US. The next batch of breakthrough medicines will not come from the US, but from countries where drugmakers worth with nature, not conquer it.
Big Pharma knows this, so they may be able to tame the GOP on this out of enlightened profit motive. We'll see.