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Designing Regional Systems of Biotechnology Regulation A Transaction Cost Approach to Regulatory Governance

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  • Birner, Regina
  • Linacre, Nicholas A.

Abstract

Many developing countries are currently in the process of designing regulatory systems that should make it possible to use the potential of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) for agricultural development, while at the same time managing the risks for food safety and the environment that are potentially associated with these technologies. In view of the considerable costs associated with biotechnology regulation and the scarcity of biosafety specialists, there are processes in various regions of the developing world to establish regional systems of biotechnology regulation. So far, there are major knowledge gaps as to how regional systems of biotechnology regulation can be designed to be effective and efficient and to fulfill principles of good governance, such as transparency, voice and accountability, control of corruption, and avoidance of special interest capture. There is a wide variety of possible regional approaches, which differ with regard to the level of centralization, the scope of a regional system, the types of regional institutions and processes, and the types of financing mechanisms. Based on the literature on environmental and fiscal federalism and transaction costs economics, the paper develops a conceptual framework for the assessment of regional systems of biotechnology regulation. The framework specifies design options and assessment criteria, and identifies major trade-offs as well as the factors affecting these trade-offs. The paper takes West Africa as an example to illustrate this framework and refers to the European Union for comparison. The paper concludes that involving regional experts, stakeholders and policy-makers into debates on the design of a regional regulatory system is an important strategy to fill knowledge gaps and arrive at conclusions regarding the trade-offs involved in regional biotechnology regulation. Key words: regional biotechnology regulation; regulatory federalism; transaction cost economics; West Africa; European Union

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by African Association of Agricultural Economists (AAAE) in its series 2007 Second International Conference, August 20-22, 2007, Accra, Ghana with number 52218.

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Date of creation: Nov 2008
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Handle: RePEc:ags:aaae07:52218

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Keywords: regional biotechnology regulation; regulatory federalism; transaction cost economics; European Union; Agricultural and Food Policy; Community/Rural/Urban Development; Consumer/Household Economics; Environmental Economics and Policy; Farm Management; Food Consumption/Nutrition/Food Safety; Food Security and Poverty; International Relations/Trade; Marketing; Production Economics; Research and Development/Tech Change/Emerging Technologies;

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  1. Shelanski, Howard A & Klein, Peter G, 1995. "Empirical Research in Transaction Cost Economics: A Review and Assessment," Journal of Law, Economics and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 11(2), pages 335-61, October.
  2. Voigt, Stefan & Salzberger, Eli M, 2002. "Choosing Not to Choose: When Politicians Choose to Delegate Powers," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 55(2), pages 289-310.
  3. Pritchett, Lant & Woolcock, Michael, 2004. "Solutions When the Solution is the Problem: Arraying the Disarray in Development," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 32(2), pages 191-212, February.
  4. Regina Birner & Heidi Wittmer, 2004. "On the 'efficient boundaries of the state': the contribution of transaction-costs economics to the analysis of decentralization and devolution in natural resource management," Environment and Planning C: Government and Policy, Pion Ltd, London, vol. 22(5), pages 667-685, October.
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