Informations and abstract
International public opinion is much concerned about risks of biotechnology. In this article it suggested that economic analysis can provide an important contribution in promoting and diffusing those biotechnologies, which offer the highest social benefits and produce the lowest social costs. Particular attention to be given to protection of intellectual property, for example patents for new inventions. A patent as such tends to promote the innovation and is therefore a tool which, by its very nature, underlines the benefits rather than the costs of the innovation itself. The suggested way out is not to discard these instruments, but to perfect the patenting procedures as much as possible, for example asking the applicant to submit a report on the innovation's social and environmental effects. Furthermore, we need to implement an adequate discipline for the protection of intellectual property along with a discipline of legal liability and with an adequate antitrust legislation and practice. The article also addresses the problems stemming from the fact that biotechnological innovations mainly occur in developed countries using genetic resources and biodiversity mainly located in developing countries: these countries have no voice in determining the features of the innovation process and they are excluded by the resulting commercial benefits; this represents a major problem in international relations both in terms of equity and of international efficiency. Developed countries should feel responsible for the enforcement of the principles accepted in the international treaties by adjusting their own legislation on intellectual property rights and on antitrust so as to avoid that protection of property rights leads to an excessive market power and to undervaluing the social costs of the innovations. The problem is also to promote a greater capacity to innovate and to apply the innovations in developing countries, which means putting them in a position to use a technological progress developed on their own territory for their own economic growth.