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Changes to Biological Diversity Act, 2002:

GS Paper 3:

Topics Covered: Conservation related issues.

 

Biological Diversity Act, 2002:

Context:

Government had, in December 2021, introduced the Biological Diversity (Amendment) Bill, 2021 in Lok Sabha. The bill is in the final stages of consultations in the Joint Parliamentary Committee.

Senior Congress leader Jairam Ramesh has expressed concerns over contentious provisions of the bill. This includes:

  • Exemption given to AYUSH practitioners from the provisions of the law. This exemption could open the law for abuse.
  • Distinction has been made in the law between cultivated biodiversity and forest-based biodiversity.
  • The appointment of sixteen ex-officio officers of the Government of India dilutes the authority of the National Biodiversity Authority (NBA).
  • NBA approval is required only at the time of commercialisation of a patent and not at the time of application for a patent.

 

Highlights of the Bill:

  1. It seeks to reduce the pressure on wild medicinal plants by encouraging the cultivation of medicinal plants.
  2. The Bill also facilitates fast-tracking of research, simplify the patent application process, decriminalises certain offences.
  3. It brings more foreign investments in biological resources, research, patent and commercial utilisation, without compromising the national interest.
  4. It focuses on regulating who can access biological resources and knowledge and how access will be monitored.

 

Why is the Biodiversity Act 2002 being amended?

  • People from AYUSH medicine urged the government to simplify, streamline and reduce the compliance burden to provide for a conducive environment for collaborative research and investments.
  • They also sought to simplify the patent application process, widen the scope of access and benefit-sharing with local communities.

 

Why are environmentalists opposed to this bill?

  • The main focus of the bill is to facilitate trade in biodiversity as opposed to conservation, protection of biodiversity and knowledge of the local communities.
  • The bill has been introduced without seeking public comments as required under the pre-legislative consultative policy.
  • The bill has excluded the term Bio-utilization which is an important element in the Act. Leaving out bio utilization would leave out an array of activities like characterization, incentivisation and bioassay which are undertaken with commercial motive.
  • The bill also exempts cultivated medicinal plants from the purview of the Act but it is practically impossible to detect which plants are cultivated and which are from the wild.

 

What is the Biological Diversity Act, 2002?

  • Enacted for the conservation of biological diversity and fair, equitable sharing of the monetary benefits from the commercial use of biological resources and traditional knowledge.
  • The main intent of this legislation is to protect India’s rich biodiversity and associated knowledge against their use by foreign individuals.
  • It seeks to check biopiracy, protect biological diversity and local growers through a three-tier structure of central and state boards and local committees.
  • The Act provides for setting up of a National Biodiversity Authority (NBA), State Biodiversity Boards (SBBs) and Biodiversity Management Committees (BMCs) in local bodies.
  • The NBA will enjoy the power of a civil court.

 

 

Insta Curious:

Have you heard about the Nagoya Protocol? Read about it here.

 

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. About Biodiversity Act.
  2. Biodiversity (Amendment) Bill.
  3. National Biodiversity Authority.
  4. Nagoya Protocol.
  5. Biopiracy.

Mains Link:

What’s the mandate of and significance of work being carried out by ‘Bioversity International’ organisation? How is it different from India’s National Biodiversity Authority? Examine.

 

[Q.4) Consider the following statements:

    1. Biological Diversity Act, 2002 provides for setting up of a National Biodiversity Authority.
    2. It also provides for setting up of Biodiversity Management Committees (BMCs) in local bodies.

Which of the above statements is/are correct?

      1. 1 only.
      2. 2 only.
      3. Both.
      4. None. ]

Sources: the Hindu.