The International Consortium on Agricultural Biotechnology Research (ICABR)


The Distribution of Benefits From Ownership Rights in Genetic Resources: The case of Beans

Douglas Pachico, Centro Internacional de Agricultura Tropical (CIAT), Colombia





With the advent of biotechnology and the emergence of property rights in
genetic materials, the economic value of genetic resources is an issue of
growing importance. Since neither genetic resources nor their use is
equally distributed this paper develops a model to assess the distribution
of benefits from ownership and use of cultivated and wild bean (Phaseolus
vulgaris L.) genetic resources. First, this paper quantitatively estimates
the potential magnitude of royalty incomes that wound accrue to countries of
origin of germplasm. Second, it breaks down royalty flows by countries,
thereby revealing significant intra-regional variation in the distribution
of benefits. Third, a distinction is made between payment for land races
versus wild germplam. Finally, an estimate of net benefits from germplasm
is presented, taking into account royalty receipts, royalty payments, and
the increase in productivity due to the use of improved germplasm. The
paper finds that a system of ownership rights in bean germplasm would
generate income flows for countries that own major sources of diversity.
High income gene-poor countries of the north, would indeed make payments to
low income, gene-rich countries in the south. However, many low income
countries in the south are also poorly endowed with genetic diversity, and
would also be net payers for the use of germplasm. Most countries in the
south would have far more to gain from increases in productivity due to
utilizing germplasm, than they would from receiving royalty payments for the
ownership of germplasm.


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