Biological Diversity Amendment Bill 2021 – UPSC GS2

The Government of India has introduced the Biological Diversity Amendment Bill, 2021, in the Lok Sabha.
Purpose: The Bill seeks to amend the Biological Diversity Act, 2002 with the aim of reducing the compliance burden and facilitating investment.
Key provisions:
  • 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.
  • Bill exempts cultivated medicinal plants from the purview of the Act.
  • Bill facilitates fast-tracking of research, and patent application process.
  • 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”.