Kerala

State to get paid for biowealth

Braving resistance from corporate giants, two Kerala firms have inked agreements with the Kerala State Biodiversity Board (KSBB) for access benefit sharing (ABS).

The signing of agreement with the board, the first in the State, comes at the end of nearly a decade-long campaign. Though the KSBB had been repeatedly writing to over 2,000 companies commercially manufacturing products using bio-resources collected from the State, only a few chose to respond. Even the government-owned companies kept away from ABS with the board.

Legal concept

ABS is a legal concept that came into currency following the international Convention of Biological Diversity, which considered fair and equitable sharing of benefits from the commercial use of biological resources.

The Biological Diversity Act 2002 and Rules prescribe that a share of the profit that arises out of the use of biological resources shall be used for the conservation of commercially exploited resources.

It defines commercial utilisation as the “end use of biological resources for commercial utilisation such as drugs, industrial enzymes, food flavours, fragrance, cosmetics, emulsifiers, oleoresins, colours, extracts, and genes used for improving crops and livestock through genetic intervention.”

“The sustained campaign of the KSBB has started yielding results as two firms inked the agreement for sharing of profits. Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan distributed the certificates to the firms that signed the contract,” said S.C. Joshi, Chairman, KSBB.

Around 200 companies had expressed willingness to sign the contract with the board. The signing of the agreement between the firms and the KSBB was of significance as there had been organised resistance from big Ayurveda firms and companies. A few companies that came forward for sharing the benefits were dissuaded by some corporate groups, Mr. Joshi said.

Names kept secret

The name of the companies that inked the agreement and the amount they would contribute would not be revealed as mandated by the law. The board would soon resort to legal measures to bring on board all the firms and commercial establishments that used such resources from the State, he said.

Incidentally, the Act prescribes imprisonment up to three years and a fine of ₹5 lakh or both for the failure of the companies to intimate the KSBB about the collection of bio-resources for commercial utilisation.

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Printable version | May 5, 2021 3:07:48 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/state-to-get-paid-for-biowealth/article24234793.ece

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