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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Animal Genetic Resource Trade Flows: Economic Assessment

Authors
item Gollin, Douglas - WILLIAMS COLLEGE
item Van Dusen, Eric - BERKLEY, CA
item Blackburn, Harvey

Submitted to: Livestock Science
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: June 30, 2008
Publication Date: February 1, 2009
Repository URL: http://doi:10.1016/j.livsci.2008.07.017
Citation: Gollin, D., Van Dusen, E., Blackburn, H.D. 2009. Animal Genetic Resource Trade Flows: Economic Assessment. Livestock Science 120:248-255.

Interpretive Summary: In various forums the issue of exchanging animal genetic resources has been discussed, there is one school of thought that there is need for multinational agreements that control the import and export of these resources, particularly in regard to the exchange of genetic resources from developing country to developed country. By in large these discussions have occurred with out a quantitative assessment of trade flows. In this study international trade in animal genetic resources have been quantified for cattle semen and live pigs and cattle and where these genetic resources were traded. 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 evaluating the direction of trade between developed (North) and developing (South) countries, North-North 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 suggest that efforts 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 rather than developing international agreements and erecting barriers to trade.

Technical Abstract: Throughout human history, livestock producers have relied on a vibrant international exchange of genetic 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 also 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 Nations 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 evaluating the direction of trade between developed (North) and developing (South) countries, North-North 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 desired goal of conserving rare breeds and threatened genetic resources. We also doubt whether these agreements will succeed in 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.

Last Modified: 4/18/2014
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