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The value of conserving genetic resources for R&D: A survey

  • Sarr, Mare
  • Goeschl, Timo
  • Swanson, Tim

The value of genetic resources for R&D is placed within the framework of discussions concerning sustainability. We assess the extent to which society is able to invest now in order to prepare for future risks and uncertainties in the arrival of biological problems. Each of the approaches to valuation is discussed within this setting. Weitzman's approach to measurement is seen to be one that considers society's current objectives and information to be little relevant to future risks and uncertainties. Sedjo, Simpson and Reids' search-theoretic perspective is seen to reduce future uncertainties to highly tractable and known problems. Goeschl and Swanson's bio-technological approach also constrains the problem to be one without any real uncertainty, and focuses on the need to maintain genetic resources in order to maintain control over the problem. Kassar and Lasserre place uncertainty at the core of the problem, and assess the extent to which additional value is added by this feature. In sum all of the approaches to the problem evince a pessimism regarding the capacity of future technological change automatically to resolve these problems. Given this, the value of genetic resources depends on beliefs concerning the ability of current objectives to anticipate future risks and uncertainties.

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Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Ecological Economics.

Volume (Year): 67 (2008)
Issue (Month): 2 (September)
Pages: 184-193

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Handle: RePEc:eee:ecolec:v:67:y:2008:i:2:p:184-193
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/ecolecon

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  1. Rausser, Gordon C. & Small, Arthur A., 2000. "Valuing Research Leads: Bioprospecting and the Conservation of Genetic Resources," Berkeley Olin Program in Law & Economics, Working Paper Series qt4t56m5b8, Berkeley Olin Program in Law & Economics.
  2. Martin L. Weitzman, 1998. "The Noah's Ark Problem," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 66(6), pages 1279-1298, November.
  3. Timo Goeschl & Timothy Swanson, 2002. "The Social Value of Biodiversity for R&D," Environmental & Resource Economics, European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 22(4), pages 477-504, August.
  4. Gollier & Jullien & Treich, 2000. "Scientific progress and irreversibility : an economic interpretation of the Precautionary principle," Working Papers 156240, Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique, France.
  5. Solow Andrew & Polasky Stephen & Broadus James, 1993. "On the Measurement of Biological Diversity," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 24(1), pages 60-68, January.
  6. Ilhem Kassar & Pierre Lasserre, 2002. "Species Preservation and Biodiversity Value: A Real Options Approach," Cahiers de recherche du Département des sciences économiques, UQAM 20-18, Université du Québec à Montréal, Département des sciences économiques.
  7. Costello, Christopher & Ward, Michael, 2006. "Search, bioprospecting and biodiversity conservation," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 52(3), pages 615-626, November.
  8. Martin L. Weitzman, 2000. "Economic Profitability Versus Ecological Entropy," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 115(1), pages 237-263, February.
  9. Simpson, R David & Sedjo, Roger A & Reid, John W, 1996. "Valuing Biodiversity for Use in Pharmaceutical Research," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 104(1), pages 163-85, February.
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