Bioprospecting with Patent Races
Previous work on bioprospecting has suggested that the potential market returns to genetic resource conservation are likely to be inconsequential. This article shows that when the buyers of genetic resource options are also competitors in patent races, sellers can extract all the surplus associated with their holdings. Under reasonable conditions, the ex ante return to genetic resource assets will then be determined, not by their marginal contribution to surplus, but by their average contribution. The result implies that several bioeconomic studies reporting large average species values provide credible estimates of the strength of market incentives for biodiversity conservation.
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