GENE CAMPAIGN director Dr Suman Sahai, while stressing the need to protect indigenous knowledge of tribal and rural communities, called for an immediate and comprehensive legislation to protect traditional knowledge of local communities.
Inaugurating a one-day consultative meet on ‘Protection of Indigenous knowledge of Biodiversity’ organised jointly by the National Law Institute University (NLIU) and Gene Campaign, Dr Sahai said it was imperative to protect traditional knowledge since it was under serious threat that was visible in national and international policy.
The central problem, she said was that while knowledge created in laboratories was acknowledged as property of the innovator or the big multinational corporations; that created in fields and forests was not recognised in the same way.
Consequently, this knowledge was being used without authorisation of holders of traditional knowledge and local communities were deprived of the benefits of their knowledge, she added. Describing this situation as patently unjust, she called for an immediate redressal of such inequity.
Earlier, in his welcome address, Director, NLIU, Prof Balraj Chauhan said there was an urgent need to develop an effective regime for protection of indigenous knowledge of biodiversity at the local, national and international level.
He felt biodiversity and indigenous knowledge associated with it, could be a special strength of developing countries like India and it was this traditional knowledge that constituted the mainstay of food and livelihood security of rural and tribal communities and in India, this knowledge, if properly and effectively protected, could help in their becoming self-reliant.
Convener of the consultative meet and an assistant professor at NLIU Ghayur Alam said the key objective of the meet was to examine legal instruments that were in existence at the national and international level that could have a bearing on the protection of indigenous knowledge of bio-resources. The meet will examine the provisions of the Biodiversity Act, Patents Act, Geographical Indications Act, Tribal Rights Bill and customary laws in relation to protection of indigenous knowledge.