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The Institutional Economics of Biodiversity, Biological Materials, and Bioprospecting

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Type: Conference Paper
Author: Polski, Margaret
Conference: Governance of Biodiversity as a Global Public Good: Bioprospection, Intellectual Property Rights and Traditional Knowledge
Location: Louvain-la-Neuve, France
Conf. Date: February 5-6
Date: 2004
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10535/8094
Sector: Global Commons
New Commons
Subject(s): biodiversity
common pool resources
intellectual property rights
institutional economics
Abstract: "The struggle to assign property rights to biological materials and the outcomes of bioprospecting, and to align economic incentives in such a way that biodiversity is conserved presents a number of under-researched analytical issues. This paper uses work in new institutional economics to explore these issues and provide guidance for policymakers who must design appropriate policies and for scholars who are interested in economic organization and regulation. The main findings from the analysis are that biodiversity and biological materials are common pool goods; research on biological materials can but does not necessarily contribute to creating new knowledge and inventions; harvesting biological materials for research and development is a complex contracting situation that involves high risk intertemporal asset transformation and potentially three economically separable goods that have different investment characteristics and contracting requirements; it appears that biodiversity, NHBMs, and bioprospecting are best governed by relationship contracting principals that are designed to fit specific contracting conditions, however empirical analysis of biocontracting experience would improve the reliability and validity of this prediction."

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