Global Property Rights in Genetic Resources: Do They Involve Sound Economics? Will they Conserve Nature and Biodiversity?

In recent years, growing economic globalisation has been accompanied by rising social support for market systems as a means of managing resource-use. In turn, the free market movement considers definite and secure property rights (especially private rights and, sometimes, communal rights) in resources to be the necessary basis for a desirable market system. Global policies for managing the Earth’s genetic resources have been influenced by this approach. As outlined in this article, there has been a global expansion of property rights in genetic resources, and further extensions have been advocated. In order to assess the possible social benefits and costs of granting property rights in genetic resources, these are classified. This classification is shown to be useful in discussing economic and legal reasons for granting or denying property rights in genetic resources. Furthermore, this classification is demonstrated to be pertinent to the consideration of market failures that may accompany the granting of property rights in genetic resources and which limit the potential social economic benefits from establishing property rights in these resources. It is concluded that many of those who advocate the management of genetic resources by means of secure property rights and market systems have been overly optimistic about the economic potential of this policy, its social benefits, its impact on the conservation of biodiversity, and its workability. There is a need for more informed debate on these matters before concluding that wholesale global extension of property rights in genetic material is desirable. In addition to the above, this paper compares and assesses the approach on property rights in wildlife and nature adopted in the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) with that advocated in the international Convention on Biological Diversity.


Issue Date:
2008-08
Publication Type:
Working or Discussion Paper
DOI and Other Identifiers:
ISSN: 1327-8231 (Other)
PURL Identifier:
http://purl.umn.edu/55109
Total Pages:
18
Series Statement:
Economics, Ecology and the Environment Working Paper
150




 Record created 2017-04-01, last modified 2017-08-25

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