Amendments To Biodiversity Bill, 2021:
A Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) that examined the Biological Diversity (Amendment) Bill 2021, has submitted its suggestions on the Bill.
- The JPC has accepted several amendments made by the Ministry of Environment & Climate Change (MoEFCC).
- The Biological Diversity Act, 2002 (BDA) was enacted to provide for the conservation of biological diversity, sustainable use of its components, and fair and equitable sharing of the benefits arising out of the use of biological resources and traditional knowledge.
- The Act prohibits any person or organisation from obtaining any biological resource, occurring in India for its research or commercial utilisation, without prior approval from the National Biodiversity Authority.
- The act envisaged a three-tier structure to regulate the access to biological resources:
- The National Biodiversity Authority (NBA)
- The State Biodiversity Boards (SBBs)
- The Biodiversity Management Committees (BMCs) (at local level)
- The act stipulates all offences under it as cognizable and non-bailable.
Amendments Made in Biodiversity Bill 2021:
- Boosting Indian Medicine System: It seeks to give a fillip to “Indian system of medicine”, and facilitate fast-tracking of research, patent application process, transfer of research results while utilising the biological resources available in India.
- It seeks to empower local communities to be able to utilise resources, particularly of medicinal value, such as seeds.
- The Bill looks to encourage farmers to increase cultivation of medicinal plants.
- These objectives to be achieved without compromising the objectives of the United Nation Convention on Biological Diversity.
- Decriminalising Certain Provisions: It seeks to decriminalise certain provisions in the chain of biological resources.
- These changes were brought in consonance with India’s ratification of Nagoya Protocol (Access to generic resources and the fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising from their utilisation) in 2012.
- Allowing Foreign Investments: It also allows for foreign investment in research into biodiversity.
- However, this investment will necessarily have to be made through Indian companies involved in biodiversity research.
- For foreign entities approval from the National Biodiversity Authority is necessary.
- Exempting AYUSH Practitioners: The Bill seeks to exempt registered AYUSH medical practitioners and people accessing codified traditional knowledge, among others, from giving prior intimation to State biodiversity boards for accessing biological resources for certain purposes.