IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this article

Coase, Pigou and the potato: Whither farmers' rights?


  • Bertacchini, Enrico E.


This paper explores the realization of farmers' rights in order to reward farming communities for their contribution in conserving and developing crop genetic resources. Current proposals to realize farmers' rights follow both Coasean and Pigouvian approaches, which try to solve the public good dilemma generated by traditional farmers in supplying agrobiodiversity. However, both the solutions not only may be difficult to realize but also provide just incomplete incentives to traditional farmers in enhancing in situ genetic diversity. In analogy with emerging open source models in the digital information economy, I contend that traditional farming systems, with the customary practices of seed saving and exchange, must be regarded as a common based peer organization for germplasm production and distribution. For this reason, new options for implementing farmers' rights should be devised in order to strengthen farmers' practices to use and exchange seeds within the traditional seed systems.

Suggested Citation

  • Bertacchini, Enrico E., 2008. "Coase, Pigou and the potato: Whither farmers' rights?," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 68(1-2), pages 183-193, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:ecolec:v:68:y:2008:i:1-2:p:183-193

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: Full text for ScienceDirect subscribers only

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to search for a different version of it.

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Evenson, Robert E & Gollin, Douglas, 1997. "Genetic Resources, International Organizations, and Improvement in Rice Varieties," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 45(3), pages 471-500, April.
    2. Fehr, Ernst & Falk, Armin, 2002. "Psychological foundations of incentives," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 46(4-5), pages 687-724, May.
    3. Bellon, Mauricio R. & Adato, Michelle & Becerril, Javier & Mindek, Dubravka, 2006. "Poor farmers' perceived benefits from different types of maize germplasm: The case of creolization in lowland tropical Mexico," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 34(1), pages 113-129, January.
    4. Lerner, Josh & Tirole, Jean, 2002. "Some Simple Economics of Open," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 50(2), pages 197-234, June.
    5. Frey, Bruno S & Oberholzer-Gee, Felix, 1997. "The Cost of Price Incentives: An Empirical Analysis of Motivation Crowding-Out," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 87(4), pages 746-755, September.
    6. George J. Stigler, 1971. "The Theory of Economic Regulation," Bell Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 2(1), pages 3-21, Spring.
    7. Barrett, Christopher B. & Lybbert, Travis J., 2000. "Is bioprospecting a viable strategy for conserving tropical ecosystems?," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 34(3), pages 293-300, September.
    8. Dedeurwaerdere, Tom, 2005. "From bioprospecting to reflexive governance," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 53(4), pages 473-491, June.
    9. Trommetter, Michel, 2005. "Biodiversity and international stakes: A question of access," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 53(4), pages 573-583, June.
    10. Coase, R H, 1974. "The Lighthouse in Economics," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 17(2), pages 357-376, October.
    11. Badstue, Lone B. & Bellon, Mauricio R. & Berthaud, Julien & Ramirez, Alejandro & Flores, Dagoberto & Juarez, Xochitl, 2007. "The Dynamics of Farmers' Maize Seed Supply Practices in the Central Valleys of Oaxaca, Mexico," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 35(9), pages 1579-1593, September.
    12. C. S. Srinivasan, 2003. "Exploring the Feasibility of Farmers' Rights," Development Policy Review, Overseas Development Institute, vol. 21, pages 419-447, July.
    13. Brush, Stephen B., 1998. "Bio-cooperation and the benefits of crop genetic resources: the case of Mexican maize," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 26(5), pages 755-766, May.
    14. Dennis, Evan & Ilyasov, Jarilkasin & van Dusen, Eric & Treshkin, Sergey & Lee, Marina & Eyzaguirre, Pablo, 2007. "Local Institutions and Plant Genetic Conservation: Exchange of Plant Genetic Resources in Rural Uzbekistan and some Theoretical Implications," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 35(9), pages 1564-1578, September.
    15. Stephen B. Brush, 2002. "The Lighthouse and the Potato: Internalizing the Value of Crop Genetic Diversity," Working Papers wp37, Political Economy Research Institute, University of Massachusetts at Amherst.
    16. Tripp, Robert & Louwaars, Niels, 1997. "Seed regulation: choices on the road to reform," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 22(5), pages 433-446, October.
    17. Ramanna, Anitha, 2003. "India's plant variety and farmers' rights legislation: potential impact on stakeholder access to genetic resources," EPTD discussion papers 96, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
    18. Salazar, Rene & Louwaars, Niels P. & Visser, Bert, 2007. "Protecting Farmers' New Varieties: New Approaches to Rights on Collective Innovations in Plant Genetic Resources," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 35(9), pages 1515-1528, September.
    19. Byerlee, Derek, 1996. "Modern varieties, productivity, and sustainability: Recent experience and emerging challenges," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 24(4), pages 697-718, April.
    20. Falcon, W. P. & Fowler, C., 2002. "Carving up the commons--emergence of a new international regime for germplasm development and transfer," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 27(3), pages 197-222, June.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Sebastian von Engelhardt, 2010. "Quality Competition or Quality Cooperation? License-Type and the Strategic Nature of Open Source vs. Closed Source Business Models," Jena Economic Research Papers 2010-034, Friedrich-Schiller-University Jena.
    2. Pascual, Unai & Narloch, Ulf & Nordhagen, Stella & Drucker, Adam G., 2011. "The economics of agrobiodiversity conservation for food security under climate change," Economia Agraria y Recursos Naturales, Spanish Association of Agricultural Economists, vol. 11(1).


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:eee:ecolec:v:68:y:2008:i:1-2:p:183-193. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Dana Niculescu). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.