Handbook on the Economics of Natural Resources

Handbook on the Economics of Natural Resources

Edited by Robert Halvorsen and David F. Layton

The topics discussed in the Handbook on the Economics of Natural Resources are essential for those looking to understand how best to use and conserve the resources that form the foundation for human well-being. These include nonrenewable resources, modeling of biological resources, conservation of biological resources and water resources. The expert contributors of this Handbook provide solutions to many of the problems that growing populations now face, and sketch the likely future developments in the field of natural resource economics whilst paving the way for new thinking.

Chapter 9: Biological resistance

Ramanan Laxminarayan and Markus Herrmann

Subjects: economics and finance, environmental economics, environment, environmental economics


Efforts to control organisms that are harmful to human health and agriculture have encountered the problem of resistance, observed in bacteria (to antibiotics), malarial parasites (to antimalarial drugs), viruses (to antivirals), and pests (to pesticides). In each case, application of control measures increases the likelihood that they will be less effective when used in the future. The effectiveness of the control agents can therefore be considered a natural resource much like fish, trees, oil, or other resources. As with other resources, the optimal management of antibiotic effectiveness is determined by the biological dynamics of bacterial evolution of resistance, spread of infection, and demand for antibiotic treatment. Even before penicillin was introduced, resistant strains of bacteria had been detected (Abraham and Chain 1988). The selection pressure caused by the use of millions of tons of antibiotics over the past 75 years has made virtually all disease-causing bacteria resistant to the antibiotics commonly used to treat them.

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