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DAILY NEWS ANALYSIS

  • 12 August, 2022

  • 7 Min Read

Amendments to Biodiversity Bill, 2021

Amendments to Biodiversity Bill, 2021

The Biological Diversity (Amendment) Bill 2021 was recently the subject of an investigation by the Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC), which recently submitted its recommendations.

Image Source - Journals of India

The Ministry of Environment and Climate Change submitted various revisions, which the JPC has accepted (MoEFCC).

Biodiversity Act, 2002

  • To ensure the preservation of biological variety, sustainable use of its elements, and fair and equal distribution of the benefits resulting from the use of biological resources and traditional knowledge, the Biological Diversity Act, 2002 (BDA), was adopted.

Features:

  • According to the Act, no individual or group may acquire any biological resource present in India for use in study or commerce without first receiving consent from the National Biodiversity Authority.
  • A three-tiered framework was envisioned by the act to control access to biological resources:
  • The Office of National Biodiversity (NBA)
  • State Boards for Biodiversity (SBBs)
  • The Biodiversity Management Committees (BMC) (at the local level)
  • All offences covered by the statute are defined as cognizable and non-bailable.

Amendments Made in Biodiversity Bill 2021

Boosting the Indian Medical System:

  • It aims to support the "Indian system of medicine" and to speed up the research, patent application, and transfer processes while utilizing the biological resources that are present in India.
  • It aims to enable local communities to use resources, especially those with therapeutic value, like seeds.
  • With this bill, farmers are urged to cultivate more therapeutic plants.
  • Without undermining the goals of the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity, these goals must be met.

Decriminalizing Several Provisions:

Allowing Foreign Investments:

  • This also permits foreign funding for biodiversity research. However, it will be necessary to make this investment through Indian businesses engaged in biodiversity research.
  • For overseas organizations, National Biodiversity Authority clearance is required.

Exempting AYUSH Practitioners:

  • The Bill aims to exempt individuals accessing codified traditional knowledge, registered AYUSH medical practitioners, and others from having to notify state biodiversity boards in advance of using biological resources for specific reasons.

Major concerns Raised Against the Proposed Amendments

  • Concerns were voiced that the bill prioritized commercial trade and intellectual property over the act's primary goal of safeguarding biological resources.
  • The threat of Bio-piracy: "Bio-piracy" would be made possible by exempting AYUSH practitioners from notifying state biodiversity bodies in advance.
  • Exploiting naturally occurring genetic or biochemical material for commercial purposes is known as biopiracy.
  • Biodiversity Management Committees (BMCs) are being marginalized: The proposed modifications give state biodiversity boards the ability to represent BMCs when deciding how benefits will be shared.
  • The BDA 2002 stipulates that before making any decisions on the use of biological resources, national and state biodiversity boards must consult the BMCs (formed by each municipal body).
  • Local Communities Are Ignored: The law also exempts cultivated medicinal plants from the Act's coverage. However, it is virtually impossible to distinguish between farmed and wild plants.
  • Large corporations could be able to avoid the Act's access and benefit-sharing requirements for prior approval or for sharing the benefit with local communities by using this clause.

Recommendations Made by the Committee:

Conserving Biological Resources:

  • The JPC advised that the draught law's biodiversity management committees and indigenous communities be given authority by defining benefit claimants as biological resource conservers.

Promoting Indian medicine

  • By encouraging the cultivation of medicinal plants, you can ease the burden on wild medicinal plants that are used in indigenous medicine.
  • It is important to promote the Indian system of medicine by identifying and codifying traditional knowledge.
  • Promoting indigenous research and Indian businesses by facilitating the expedited processing of patent applications, the transfer of research results, and the use of India's biological resources without violating the goals of the International Convention on Biological Diversity.

Under Promote Sustainable Use:

  • To design national plans for conservation, promotion, and sustainable use of biological resources in conjunction with state governments, the JPC advised biodiversity management committees.

Legal Offense:

  • The committee has further advised that because the Biological Diversity Act, 2002 is a civil offence, any violation should result in civil penalties and a proportionate fine structure to prevent offenders from evading justice.

Inflows of FDI

  • Additionally, it is necessary to define foreign companies in the accordbyanies Act and establish a protocol for the use of biological resources from India in order for more foreign investments in the chain of biological resources, including research, patenting, and commercial exploitation, without compromising national interest.

Also, Read - Butterfly Mine

Source: PIB


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