Universities to share technologies to fight hunger in developing countries; improve domestic crops

A group of leading U.S. public sector agricultural research institutions has agreed to allow access to each other's current and future patented agricultural technologies and is exploring ways to ensure that new licensing agreements allow for technologies to be used to fight global hunger and to boost the domestic agricultural sector.

The agreement will accelerate research and development to improve staple crop varieties like rice, cassava, sorghum and potatoes essential to resource-poor farmers in developing countries who depend on small farm plots and face severe and very fundamental problems, such as poor agricultural soils, drought, plant diseases and pests. Low production is a perennial threat to resourcepoor farming families and an important factor contributing to the chronic undernourishment of about 800 million people worldwide.

The agreement will also benefit the U.S. agricultural sector by speeding up research, development and commercialization of specialty crops like tomatoes, lettuce and grapes for characteristics including improved nutritional value, better disease-resistance and reduced environmental impact. These and other specialty crops, which are grown in specific regions rather than across broad areas involving tens of millions of acres like wheat and corn, are important to states' economies.

A new initiative, the Public-Sector Intellectual Property Resource for Agriculture, or PIPRA, has been established to collaborate in managing participating institutions' intellectual property. PIPRA will explore and encourage best practices in IP licensing that will result in greater access to agricultural inventions for subsistence and specialty crop applications. It will also establish a mechanism for information sharing so that researchers at those institutions can more easily determine what public sector-owned technologies exist, who holds the rights, and if the technology has been licensed, to whom and under what terms. '"/>

Contact: George Soule
Rockefeller Foundation

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