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An Economic Model for Bioprospecting Contracts


  • Paulo A.L.D. Nunes

    (University of Venice and Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei)

  • Helen Ding

    (Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei)

  • Laura Onofri

    (University of Venice)


This paper explores the use of a micro-economic model to analyse the provisions and parties of bioprospecting contracts. It focuses on the pharmaceutical industry as the representative biodiversity buyer, presenting an original theoretical framework that explains the main contract characteristics or stylised facts. Against this background, it considers the main contractors involved in these private contracts, i.e. biodiversity sellers and biodiversity buyers, analysing both the magnitude and distribution of the respective payoffs. Particular attention is devoted to the different, mixed impacts of bioprospecting contracts and patenting on social welfare. The positive welfare impacts delivered by bioprospecting contracts are associated with the potential discovery of a new drug product, i.e. productivity gains, non-monetary benefit-sharing or transfers and royalty revenues. The negative welfare impact results from the legal creation of a monopoly and the related well-known effect on the consumer surplus. Finally, the potential redistribution effects are limited, and a potential enforcement of this objective may jeopardise the desirability of the contracts since this action would lead to a significant increase in the transaction costs.

Suggested Citation

  • Paulo A.L.D. Nunes & Helen Ding & Laura Onofri, 2007. "An Economic Model for Bioprospecting Contracts," Working Papers 2007.102, Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei.
  • Handle: RePEc:fem:femwpa:2007.102

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Rubinstein, Ariel, 1982. "Perfect Equilibrium in a Bargaining Model," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 50(1), pages 97-109, January.
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    3. Rausser, Gordon C. & Simon, L., 1990. "Noncooperative Model of Collective Decision Making: A Multilateral Bargaining Approach," Staff General Research Papers Archive 819, Iowa State University, Department of Economics.
    4. Sophie Thoyer & Sylvie Morardet & Patrick Rio & Leo Simon & Rachael Goodhue & Gordon Rausser, 2001. "A Bargaining Model to Simulate Negotiations Between Water Users," Journal of Artificial Societies and Social Simulation, Journal of Artificial Societies and Social Simulation, vol. 4(2), pages 1-6.
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    7. Carraro, Carlo & Marchiori, Carmen & Sgobbi, Alessandra, 2007. "Negotiating on water: insights from non-cooperative bargaining theory," Environment and Development Economics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 12(02), pages 329-349, April.
    8. Simon, Leo K. & Goodhue, Rachael E. & Rausser, Gordon C. & Thoyer, Sophie & Morardet, Sylvie & Rio, Patrick, 2007. "Structure and Power in Multilateral Negotiations: An Application to French Water Policy," Monographs, University of California, Davis, Giannini Foundation, number 37630.
    9. Tsur, Yacov & Graham-Tomasi, Theodore, 1991. "The buffer value of groundwater with stochastic surface water supplies," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 21(3), pages 201-224, November.
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    Cited by:

    1. Sonja S. Teelucksingh & Paulo A.L.D. Nunes, 2010. "Biodiversity Valuation in Developing Countries: A Focus on Small Island Developing States (SIDS)," Working Papers 2010.111, Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei.

    More about this item


    Bioprospecting Contract; Genetic Resource; Biodiversity Buyer; Biodiversity Seller; Patenting; Welfare Analysis; Benefit Sharing;

    JEL classification:

    • D21 - Microeconomics - - Production and Organizations - - - Firm Behavior: Theory
    • D23 - Microeconomics - - Production and Organizations - - - Organizational Behavior; Transaction Costs; Property Rights
    • D61 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Allocative Efficiency; Cost-Benefit Analysis
    • L14 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Transactional Relationships; Contracts and Reputation
    • Q57 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Ecological Economics

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