Objectives And Contributions

The emergence of biotechnology has expanded the human capacity to take advantage of genetic resources and manipulate biological material to obtain food, medicine, and other valuable substances. Biotechnology products generally contain a large intellectual component requiring significant up-front investment, and they have a highly valuable commercial potential, which has created an impetus for the privatization of the knowledge input to their production. The establishment of intellectual property rights (IPRs) for knowledge about biological processes and properties has increased the value and importance of maintaining biodiversity, as genetic resources are a key input to biotechnology production. The management of genetic resources and biotechnology has created new policy challenges in the attempt to attain a socially optimal allocation of costs and benefits between the public and private sectors.

The gene revolution originated in the developed world, but much of its promise may lie in addressing production and consumption problems in developing countries, with significant potential for alleviating hunger and poverty. However, there is a great deal of criticism and uncertainty about the capacity of the current institutional framework governing access to biotechnology to facilitate the transfer of technologies controlled by the private sector in developed countries to benefit a broad range of producers and consumers in developing countries. At the same time, most of the world's biodiversity resources are located in developing countries. Thus, strategies for their conservation and utilization in sustainable economic development need to be considered in the context of generating equitable access to the benefits from the management and development of genetic resources, as well as the need for efficient approaches to their conservation under conditions where economic development is imperative. The study of the policy nexus of managing biodiversity and biotechnology, especially within the context of the developing world, is an intellectual challenge which is highly relevant to current policy debates. This books aims to provide a state-of-the-art summary of knowledge and policy debate in this critical area.

The book presents the results of three years of collaborative research in which the authors aimed to develop a coherent and economics-based approach to policymaking in the management of biotechnology and biodiversity. Leading experts in various aspects of this policy debate were asked to contribute chapters on specific issues to which they could apply their unique expertise. By integrating the continuous effort of the editors with the insight of the other authors, we hope to have a fluid augmentation that is rich with insight and unique knowledge.

Target audiences for this book include agricultural economists who are working on technology and resource management issues, and especially on biotechnology and biodiversity, development economists addressing issues of resources and agricultural sector in developing countries, and environmental and resource economists. These individuals may be in academia, in government, in nongovernmental organizations, and in private companies. Another target audience is policy scholars in government, schools of public policy or schools of environment that are interested in issues of biotechnology policy, IPRs, and biodiversity, as well as the interaction between developed and developing nations regarding these issues.

A third target audience is scholars in both development studies and resource management studies. By largely de-emphasizing technical presentation in the main text and emphasizing conceptual and policy issues, we believe that we will reach scholars whose aim is to analyze these major issues of development and resource management without heavy emphasis on economics.

Finally, interest in these topics presented in the book is strong among scholars and policymakers both in the developed and developing world, and in international organizations such as The World Bank and United Nations agencies. Thus, policymakers throughout the world who are addressing the issues of this book are an important target audience.

While most of the chapters rely upon economic analysis and tools, most of the book is written in a manner that aims to reach a broad range of experts interested in the topic, including noneconomists. It also contains contributions by noneconomists who are experts in biotechnology and biodiversity. It aims to familiarize the reader with some of the major debates, policy options associated with management of biotechnology and biodiversity in the developing world, and conceptual approaches that aim to identify policies and management schemes that will lead to strategies that will improve social welfare and reduce poverty.

This book begins with a section containing chapters overviewing the global setting in which the management of biotechnology and biodiversity are taking place, including an analysis of major socioeconomic trends and institutional developments and their potential impacts. This section is followed by one containing chapters summarizing the major issues in the management of agricultural and wild biodiversity, including valuation and incentives for conservation. Equity concerns and their implications for the distribution of costs and benefits associated with the conservation and use of genetic resources are the subject of the chapters in the following section.

The next section provides an analysis of the current and potential value of biotechnology in developing countries and the types of institutional reforms needed to realize this potential. The book is then concluded with a summary chapter, which integrates the policy implications drawn from earlier sections on biodiversity and biotechnology in the context of development. In the remainder of this chapter, we provide a general introduction to the links between agricultural biodiversity and biotechnology, based upon issues and findings of the chapters as summarized below.

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