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Abstract

This paper addresses the value of bioprospection for genetic resources (GR) and traditional knowledge (TK) from the South for industrial/research input. The focus is on a dynamic approach to contracting and property rights building upon insights from evolutionary institutional economics. Drawing on a unique 'access and benefit sharing' (ABS) bioprospecting contract from the Western Ghats, India, we show how the monetary value of plant genetic information from the traditional knowledge holders' perspective can be assessed using a contingent valuation modelling approach. While the study allows the identification of such values from one of the main stakeholder's (i.e, the Kani community) perspective, it also allows to point out some of the key gaps in the valuation of GR/TK associated to ABS cases from an evolutionary institutional perspective. Two important conclusions come out of this analysis. First, it highlights the necessity to go beyond standard market approaches to economic valuation of GR/TK in order to address the issues of future possibilities of use and innovation and the integration of the different stages in the process of value creation from GR/TK. Second, it shows the necessity of developing alternatives to the current intellectual property rights regime, including systems for appropriate protection of TK of local communities.

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