Genetic Resources and the Pharmaceutical Industry in Costa Rica
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The prevention and treatment of modem diseases has become an increasingly difficult task. Finding way to treat things such as Hodgkin's disease, cancer, and leukemia is a responsibility that researchers for pharmaceutical companies now carry on their shoulders. Developing new drugs to get this job done requires extensive testing. One method that is being utilized is probing natural resources of Central and South American countries in attempts to find a genetic lead that can be used to develop a marketable product. This is seen as being more risky in comparison to testing with chemicals in a laboratory due to the high costs of research and low probability of discovering a useful genetic resource. The main issue with this type of research i~ in regards to protecting the natural resources of the given country while permitting the company to utilize them for profit. It is possible for a situation to arise in which resources are extracted from a country, yet there is not proper compensation for the intellectual property that they have taken. This misallocation of resources can lead to economic imbalance and abuse of the environment. Costa Rica has developed the only institution in the world that keeps track of species and attempts to utilize their economic and biological potential. This organization called the National Institute of Biodiversity (lnBio). Initially, the pharmaceutical company will pay an up-front fee to conduct tests. It also provides new equipment and training for researchers at InBio, which creates a positive affect for Costa Rica by transferring knowledge and technology. This progress is noted within the country and has created a culture that promotes preservation and protection of their precious natural resources. The protection of these natural resources will lead to further investment in this sector due to the higher probability of finding a useful genetic lead in the richness of the environmental resources. In regards to economic effects on the country as a whole, this paper will show that it is possibly too small of a percentage of GDP to see if there truly is a misallocation of resources. Mixed results are shown on whether Costa Rica is economically and environmentally better off than other developing countries due to the existence of InBio.