Environment protection has become one of the major concerns in today’s world of fast technological and economic development. Technology is applied to living species by the inventor to create a commodity out of it for commercial use and to safeguard the inventors’ innovation from unfair commercial use and also to further boost research and development, certain specific rights in the form of intellectual property rights are given as an incentive.
Often the technology applied on the living species takes its lead from the knowledge about the specific properties of that living species such as a microbe or a plant held by the community living in symbiotic relationship with the biodiversity to which that living species belongs i.e. leads from traditional knowledge of a community are taken for further research and eventually creation of a commodity.
The Convention of Bio-Diversity, which was proposed in 1992 at the RIO "Earth Summit" and came into force in 1993 advocates conservation of biological diversity, the sustainable use of its components and fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising out of the utilization of genetic resources.
This international instrument redefined Biodiversity from the common heritage of mankind to a national good that nations can protect and trade as commodities. The trading of Biodiversity as a commodity, which encompasses the access and equitable benefit sharing between the utilisers and holders of such knowledge regarding the specific properties of living species utilized to create a commodity also comes up with unique situations, which puts into peril the biodiversity itself.
One such leading case on Equitable sharing of benefits with Indigenous Tribes is the sharing of benefits between the tribal families, who discovered the anti-fatigue properties of plant Trichopus Zeylanicus, and the Tropical Botanical Garden and Research Institute, which invented a formulation on the lead of this traditional knowledge, also known as the famous Kani tribal case.
Besides the innovative procedure developed to tackle sharing of benefits the whole thing went for a spin when the tribal families took out every other plant species from the habitat and started cultivating the said plant having anti-fatigue properties. This action led to the gradual disappearance of the symbiotic relationship between the living species, which is necessary for a healthy and vibrant bio-diversity and this grossly disturbed the ecosystem.
This alarming situation was controlled by making the indigenous people aware about the importance of every constituent of the environment and recognizing the number of tribal families to domesticate and cultivate the plant for the commercial use.
Kani tribals case has paved the path for the productive use of existing knowledge base and modern technology but along with this comes unexpected and unforeseen situations to deal with. Trial and error teaches but there is a need to look at the scenario of biodiversity as a good and its trade as a commodity in a more holistic way to protect and conserve the same.
The food processing industry one of the largest industries in India is widely recognized as a 'sunrise industry' in India having huge potential for uplifting the agricultural economy, creation of large scale processed food manufacturing and food chain facilities, and the resultant generation of employment and export earnings.
One of the potential threats for manufacturing and sale of food/health supplements such as "Dietary food supplement", "Food supplements", "Nutritional supplements", "Health supplements", is its categorization in the category of "Food" or "Drugs", as there is a very thin line between "drugs/ medicines" and "nutritional supplements".
In its Cabinet Note in December, 2014, the Government of India proposed significant amendments to the Consolidated Foreign Direct Investment Policy, 2014 (''FDI Policy'') with respect to India's medical device industry.
Although in countries like the United States of America and New Zealand, drugs to be prescribed by medical practitioners are allowed to be advertised directly to consumers/patients and are regulated by the respective department of the Government in charge of drugs in the country, the same practice is not followed or encouraged in India.
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).