Biological Diversity Amendment Bill 2021: Ecologists oppose changes to Biological Diversity Act, 2002

What is the News?

The Government of India has introduced the Biological Diversity Amendment Bill, 2021, in the Lok Sabha.

What is the purpose of the Biological Diversity Amendment Bill 2021?

The Bill seeks to amend the Biological Diversity Act, 2002 with the aim of reducing the compliance burden and facilitating investment. 

What are the key provisions of the Biological Diversity Amendment Bill 2021?

Firstly, it exempts 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.

Secondly, the Bill exempts cultivated medicinal plants from the purview of the Act.

Thirdly, the bill facilitates fast-tracking of research, and patent application process.

Fourthly, violations of the law related to access to biological resources and benefit-sharing with communities that are currently treated as criminal offences and are non-bailable have been proposed to be made civil offences.

What are the criticisms against the Biological Diversity Amendment Bill 2021?

It prioritises intellectual property and commercial trade at the expense of the Act’s key aim of conserving biological resources.

It does not mention any provision for protecting, conservation of biodiversity or increasing local communities’ stake in sustainable use.

It mainly intends to focus on benefits to the Ayush Industry.

It would also pave the way for “biopiracy”. 

Note: Biopiracy is a situation where indigenous knowledge of nature, originating with indigenous people, is used by others for profit, without permission from and with little or no compensation or recognition to the indigenous people themselves. 

Source: This post is based on the article Ecologists oppose changes to Biological Diversity Act, 2002published in The Hindu on 18th Dec 2021.

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