Environmental and Resource Economics

, Volume 22, Issue 4, pp 477–504 | Cite as

The Social Value of Biodiversity for R&D

  • Timo Goeschl
  • Timothy Swanson


The value of genetic resources for use in research and development (R&D)activities has been the subject of a literature modelling the activity as onewhere individual firms engage in optimal search. Here we develop a moregeneralised framework in which genetic resources are used in R&D at thebase of an industry that addresses recurring problems of resistance, as inthe pharmaceutical or plant breeding industries. The R&D process is onein which firms are engaging in a continuing contest of innovation againsta background of both creative destruction (Schumpeterian competition) andadaptive destruction (natural selection and adaptation). This frameworkdemonstrates that the search model is conceptually inadequate because itfails to incorporate the important dynamic characteristics of biologicalphenomena. We then demonstrate the important differences between firm-based valuation of genetic resources and the social value of geneticresources for use in this contest of innovation. There are six externalitiesin private patent-based genetic resource valuation, and five of theseindicate that private valuations will under-estimate social values.

biodiversity genetic resources research and development 


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2002

Authors and Affiliations

  • Timo Goeschl
    • 1
  • Timothy Swanson
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Land EconomyUniversity of CambridgeCambridgeUK
  2. 2.Faculty of Law, Department of Economics and CSERGEUniversity College LondonLondonUK

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