Biodiversity Conservation and Biotechnology Development Agreements

By Frisvold, George B.; Condon, Peter | Contemporary Economic Policy, July 1994 | Go to article overview

Biodiversity Conservation and Biotechnology Development Agreements


Frisvold, George B., Condon, Peter, Contemporary Economic Policy


I. INTRODUCTION

Biodiversity loss--the extinction of species and loss of genetic variation within species--has important implications for agriculture and medicine. Genetic improvements have accounted for half of the yield gains in major cereal crops since the 1930s (U.S., OTA, 1987). Vice President Gore (1992) argues that "the single most serious strategic threat to the global food system is the threat of genetic erosion: the loss of germplasm and the increased vulnerability of food crops to their natural enemies." About half of the world's drugs are derived from plant and animal materials (Brown and Swierzbinski, 1985) and about 70 percent of the 3,000 species known to have anticancer properties are found in tropical forests (National Academy of Sciences, 1982).

Genetic resources found in tropical rainforests are disappearing at dramatic rates, however. Approximately 42 million acres of tropical forest land are cleared each year, primarily for subsistence agriculture and cattle ranching (Forster, 1993). Habitat loss from tropical deforestation is a major cause of extinction as biologists estimate that tropical forests are home to 50 to 70 percent of the species on the planet (Wilson, 1988; Raven, 1980).

If genetic resources are so valuable, why are humans depleting them so rapidly? Economists have examined two sets of factors contributing to genetic resource depletion. The first are market failures that suppress the demand for conservation of genetic resources (Brown, 1987; Sedjo, 1992; Simpson and Sedjo, 1992; Sandler, 1993). The second are competing demands for alternative uses of lands that serve as wildlife habitats. Returns to these other uses form the opportunity costs of habitat preservation (Dasgupta, 1987; Noll, 1987; Forster, 1992; Thiesenhusen, 1991; Binswanger, 1991).

Market failures arise from poorly defined property rights over genetic resources. Developing countries are unable to capture much of the social gains from their genetic materials that others use to produce new seed varieties or medicines. This is because naturally occurring plants or animals are not considered patentable inventions. Genetic resources are easy to transport and replicate, making it difficult for a country to exclude others from their use. Thus, countries preserve too little habitat because they are not fully compensated for their resources.

One response to this market failure has been the formulation of biotechnology development agreements (BDAs). BDAs are agreements between private firms and developing countries to share genetic resources and the gains from new product development. These agreements involve payments to developing countries for their genetic materials, technology sharing arrangements, and patent protection for private firms. They represent institutional innovations that allow countries to capture a greater share of the external benefits of their resources. BDAs have been touted as a potentially important means to increase the marginal benefits of biodiversity preservation (Simpson and Sedjo, 1992; Eisner, 1989-1990; Blum, 1993; Sandler, 1993; Reid et al., 1993; Aldous, 1991; Roberts, 1992).

Much attention has been given to BDAs as a way to correct market failures and increase the benefits of biodiversity conservation. However, the immediate cause of biodiversity loss is the conversion of tropical forests to crop and pasture land. For this reason, a number of studies have focused on the role of agricultural markets, population pressure, and government policies on the returns to competing uses of forest land (Forster, 1992; Thiesenhusen, 1991; Binswanger, 1991). From this perspective, increased demand for agricultural land leads to biodiversity loss independent of the existence of market failures.

This paper assesses the role BDAs play in creating incentives to conserve biodiversity, keeping in mind the importance of both market failures and opportunity costs. BDAs thus are only one of many factors affecting biodiversity conservation. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • A full archive of books and articles related to this one
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Biodiversity Conservation and Biotechnology Development Agreements
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

    Already a member? Log in now.