Jayanthi Natarajan chairs meeting of Biodiversity Boards

Union Minister of State for Environment and Forest Jayanthi Natarajan on Friday laid stress on a fine balance between research and commercial exploitation of India’s natural resources, saying that in the name of research, foreign institutions and individuals would not be allowed to exploit them.

Talking to reporters after chairing the 8 national meeting of State Biodiversity Boards, she said the Congress-led UPA government at the Centre would strain every nerve to protect the biological resources of the country.

Guidelines

“We are in the process of developing the guidelines as we speak. The government had laid down rules to undertake research at every level on India's natural resources by multinational companies,” she said.

Ms. Natarajan said thyat research was very important for a country like India which was home to 92,000 flora and over 41,000 fauna, but did not have the funds for taking up research activities.

She said that there were requests for access to the country’s natural resources from foreign individuals and institutions for research and other purposes.

It was an intensely political issue, and also an intensely vital issue for the economy.

Explaining the difference between research done in the laboratory and research on the field, she said India had to be very careful about the rules it imposed on such field research.

She said there were traditional varieties of mustard and if some research went bad, the natural mustard would get contaminated and its gene would be lost to the country forever.

“We have to make sure that while taking up research activities, our native varieties are not commercially exploited by others,” she said.

Ms Natarajan said though India was a pioneer in enacting the Biodiversity Act and it was a progressive legislation, it could be considered a pioneer only if it protected its own biological resources.

Union Environment and Forests Secretary V. Rajagopalan said that though section 38 of the Biodiversity Act called for notification of threatened species, only 14 of the 28 States in the country had done that.

Biodiversity heritage sites

Similarly, only Karnataka had notified biodiversity heritage sites as per section 37 of the Act. National Biodiversity Authority (NBA) chairman P. Balakrishna and NBA secretary C.A. Reddy spoke.

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