Animal genetic resource trade flows: Economic assessment
Throughout human history, livestock producers have relied on a vibrant international exchange of genentic resources to achieve improvements in the quality and productivity of their animals. In recent years, however, some observers have argued that changes in the legal, technological, and economic environment now imply that international exchanges of animal genetic resources (AnGR) systematically benefit rich countries at the expense of poor countries. It is argued that international flows of AnGR are displacing the indigenous animal genetic resources of developing countries, and alos that the genetic wealth of the developing world is being expropriated by rich countries. In reaction, there have been growing calls for limitations and/or barriers to the exchange of animal genetic resources. These discussions, however, seem to be based on limited information about the magnitude and direction of current trade flows in AnGR. This paper offers an analysis of AnGR trade flows from 1990 to 2005. The paper draws on national-level data from 150 countries that reported information to the United States Statistics Division. Three major trade categories were evaluated: live cattle and pigs for breeding, and cattle semen. Over the period studied, Europe and North America were the primary exporters of genetic resources for the species evaluated. OECD countries accounted for 98.7, 92.5, and 95% of cattle semen, live cattle, and swine exports in 2005, respectively. In evaluation the direction of trade between developed (North) and developing (South) countries, North-South trade had the largest magnitude, followed by North-South, South-South, and South-North. The data do not support the notion that Southern genetic resources are being used on a large scale in the North. We believe that importation from South to North is limited by the vast discrepancies in production efficiency and production systems between countries in the North and South. Given the low volume of South-North exchange, it seems doubtful that sufficient revenues could be acquired through a "benefit-sharing mechanism" to have any substantial impact on in situ or ex situ conservation efforts, or to generate benefits for poor livestock keepers in developing countries. We question whether global agreements or restrictions on trade will achieve the improving the well-being of the poor. We suggest that resources instead be urgently employed for conservation and that more direct measures should be taken to aid poor farmers, ranchers, and herders in their efforts to conserve genetic resources.
|Date of creation:||2008|
|Publication status:||published in Livestock Science, 2009, 120: 248-255.|
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