Environment & Biodiversity Governance

The Biodiversity Act and What modifications to the law has the Lok Sabha approved?

On July 25, the Lok Sabha passed a Bill amending some provisions of the Biological Diversity Act of 2002.

The Big Idea

The bill’s recent adoption by the Lok Sabha is an important step towards preserving India’s biological variety and fostering sustainable utilisation. The measure is intended to resolve issues voiced by central ministries, state governments, researchers, industry, and other stakeholders about the implementation of the Biological Diversity Act of 2002.

What is the Biodiversity Law?

  • The Biological Diversity Act of 2002, often known as the Biodiversity Law, is a key piece of law in India.
  • Its primary goal is to protect the country’s biological diversity, which includes animals, plants, microbes, gene pools, and the habitats in which they live.
  • The law was enacted in response to the worldwide need to conserve and preserve biological resources that were under threat from human activity.

Exemption for Indian Systems of Medicine:

  • Certain consumers of biological resources, such as practitioners of Indian systems of medicine, are exempt from making contributions to the Access and Benefit Sharing (ABS) mechanism.
  • Treatment of Indian enterprises with Foreign Equity: Companies incorporated in India and controlled by Indians are treated as Indian enterprises, even if they have foreign equity or partnership, and their operations involving biological resources are subject to fewer limitations.
  • Streamlining the Approval Process: Provisions have been made to accelerate approval for biological research and the submission of patent applications.
  • Penalty Provisions Rationalisation: Penalties for misbehaviour by user agencies have been rationalised.

The Importance of the Biodiversity Law

  • Biological Diversity Conservation: The Biodiversity Law is critical for preserving India’s unique range of animals, plants, microbes, and ecosystems.
  • Addressing Global Issues: The legislation is a global response to the need to protect and conserve biological resources that are under threat from human activity. It aligns India with global efforts to protect biodiversity.
  • CBD Commitment Implementation: In 1994, India ratified the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). The Biodiversity Law contributes to India’s fulfilment of its obligations under this international framework agreement by promoting biodiversity conservation and sustainable usage.
  • Sustainable Resource Utilisation: The law emphasises the sustainable use of biological resources, ensuring that they are not depleted or harmful to the environment. This strategy encourages careful resource management.
  • Traditional Medicine Supported: The law recognises the importance of traditional medicine systems like as Ayurveda, Unani, and Siddha, which rely on medicinal plants and biological resources. It advocates for the protection of these resources and traditional knowledge.
  • Access and Benefit Sharing (ABS) system: In accordance with the Nagoya Protocol, the Biodiversity Law includes an Access and Benefit Sharing system. It guarantees that the advantages derived from the use of genetic resources are shared equitably with local populations.

Reasons for the necessity for changes

  • Responding to Stakeholder Concerns: Various parties, including traditional medicine practitioners, the seed sector, pharmaceutical corporations, and the research community, raised reservations about specific aspects of the original statute over the years.
  • Supporting Traditional Systems of Medicine: One of the primary goals of the changes was to promote Indian systems of medicine such as Ayurveda. The modifications sought to offer exemptions or favourable conditions for traditional medicine practitioners to gain access to and utilise these resources.
  • Attracting Foreign Investment: By simplifying and streamlining processes, the government hoped to make it simpler for foreign organisations to do biodiversity research and business in India.
  • Promoting Research and Innovation: The modifications seek to speed up the approval process for biological resource research and simplify the submission of patent applications.
  • Penalty Provisions Rationalisation: The revisions most likely involved rationalising the penalty provisions for misbehaviour by user agencies. This was done to verify that the penalties imposed for law violations were fair and adequate.
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