What are the biodiversity laws of India? What are the prerequisites for claiming rights over intellectual property that use biological resources? What does the law exempt? These and other questions were answered by a diverse panel of experts in a webinar organized by ICRISAT to provide a close look at the biological diversity laws in India and their implementation.
Speaking about the origin of the Indian Biodiversity Act, Dr Neeti Wilson, Partner, Anand & Anand, described the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) as the international legal instrument for “the conservation of biological diversity, the sustainable use of its components and the fair and equitable sharing of the benefits arising out of the utilization of genetic resources”. CBD has been ratified by 196 nations and has significantly influenced the origin of the Indian Biological Diversity Act, Dr Wilson informed during the webinar that was organized on 25 August by the Intellectual Property Facilitation Cell at ICRISAT’s Agribusiness Innovation Platform.
The webinar captured varying perspectives on biodiversity laws and their implementation in India from academia, industry and research organization. Dr Ebenezer Jeyakumar, Assistant Professor, Sam Higginbottom University of Agriculture, Technology and Sciences, shared his experience in accessing biological resources in compliance with biodiversity laws for research work on antimicrobial resistance and drug delivery. Accordingly, obtaining the approval of National Biodiversity Authority (NBA) involves obtaining approvals from both state and national biodiversity boards by furnishing details such as origin of the biological resource used, its geographical coordinates, method of collecting the particular biological resource, quantities in which the resource was being utilized, whether the resource is being commercially exploited or is only restricted to usage in research projects, etc.
Mr Ramesh Kumar Verma, Senior Manager – IP, Tata Chemicals, shared his experience with NBA in filing of more than 35 NBA applications for the company as part of intellectual property rights protection. Any innovation or product that has been developed from biological resources requires approval from NBA prior to the filing of IP with respective IP offices as per biodiversity laws.
Dr Surya Mani Tripathi, Legal counsel, ICRISAT, outlined various exemptions in the Biodiversity Act while also broadly defining section 3, 4 and 5 of the Act to highlight the definition of access and benefit sharing of biological resources under the laws. The NBA approval process has several expert committees (like committee on agro biodiversity, normally traded commodities, access benefit sharing, medicinal plants) contributing to the decision of approvals and benefit sharing terms and conditions, it was mentioned.
The experts also shed light on the research exemptions under section 5 of the Act. Plant varieties and certain crops listed in Annex 1 of International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture enjoy conditional exemptions under biodiversity laws for the purpose of utilization and conservation for research, breeding and training for food and agriculture.
Furthermore, the expert panel also helped the participants understand how to respond to NBA’s queries and objections during the application processing.
The webinar was organized in collaboration with European Business Technology Center (EBTC) and Anand & Anand, and saw a participation of more than 170 individuals across India from various sectors.