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Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Has India benefited from the enactment of the Biological Diversity Act, 2002?

From Darryn Smyth post in IP Kat:
 India’s accession to the CBD and the subsequent enactment of the BD Act has been based on a post-colonial narrative where it was presumed that the West was exploiting India’s rich biodiversity and that India was only losing through a regime of free trade in biological resources. This assumption is possibly flawed since India has also gained through free trade of biological resources. There is perhaps no better example than the Green Revolution of the sixties and seventies which made India self-sufficient in basic food crops. This was possible due to Norman Borlaug’s high yielding wheat varieties from Mexico. There are several other examples of crops like potato, peas and tomato entering India from other countries and becoming a staple in the Indian diet.
Our primary concern with the massive bureaucratic apparatus created by India to execute its obligations under the CBD is the fact that it is creating a massive opportunity for rent-seeking and delaying and bureaucratizing scientific collaboration and research projects within and outside India. The fact that the Indian legislation has a penal provision greatly adds to the climate of fear surrounding research involving biological resources in India. It doesn't help that these provisions have actually been invoked in one case, where Indian academics of a government university are facing the possibility of jail time for an alleged violation of the BD Act while working on a government funded project. More recently there has been news of Hershey’s top brass being prosecuted for allegedly violating the BD Act. 
We agree that biodiversity must be protected but clearly India is on the wrong path.

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