Intellectual Property Issues of Genetically Engineered Crops


The committee held a webinar on Wednesday, May 6 at 3:30 pm – 5:30 pm EDT to gather information from invited speakers:

Alan Bennett, Executive Director, Public Intellectual Property Resource for Agriculture, and Distinguished Professor, University of California-Davis. bio

Alan Bennett is Distinguished Professor at the University of California, Davis where he has been an active researcher, educator, policy advisor, and technology transfer advocate. He also serves as the founding Executive Director of the “Public Intellectual Property Resource for Agriculture” (PIPRA), a not‐for‐profit organization that provides commercialization strategy advice and intellectual property rights analysis to support the commercialization of public sector innovations. Dr. Bennett earned B.S. and Ph.D. degrees in plant biology at UC Davis and Cornell University, respectively, has published over 160 scientific research papers in the area of plant molecular biology, and is recognized as an “ISI Most Cited Author”. He is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and a Senior Fellow of the California Council for Science and Technology (CCST), a science policy advisory council for the State of California. From 2000 to 2004, Dr. Bennett served as the Executive Director of the University of California Systemwide Office of Research Administration and Technology Transfer where he was responsible for research policy and the management of a portfolio of over 5,000 patented inventions, 700 active licenses, and revenue in excess of $350MM. From 2004 to 2008, Dr. Bennett served as the Associate Vice Chancellor for Research at UC Davis where he founded and managed InnovationAccess, an organization responsible for technology transfer, business development, and support for technology-based economic development in the Sacramento/Davis region. He also serves on several corporate research advisory boards and is the founding CEO of the UC Davis-Chile Life Science Innovation Center.

Diana Horvath, President, Two Blades Foundation. bio

Diana Horvath helped to establish the Two Blades Foundation (2Blades), a charitable organization engaged in the development and delivery of durable disease resistance for agriculture, and currently serves as the Foundation’s President. Trained in biochemistry and molecular biology, her professional experience has focused on research on biotic constraints on agriculture in developing countries and the molecular mechanisms of plant disease resistance and on establishing companies with innovative agricultural biotechnologies. Since 2004, Dr. Horvath has worked with her 2Blades colleagues to build development programs for resistance to significant diseases of important commercial and subsistence crops. 2Blades’ efforts are aimed at practical outcomes for real-world disease problems, such as major diseases of wheat, citrus, and tomato. Strategic deployment of resistant crops includes the management of intellectual property in order to ensure responsible stewardship of genetic resources and the delivery of the broadest benefits to farmers.

Richard Jefferson, Founder and CEO, Cambia, and Professor of Science, Technology & Law, Queensland University of Technology. bio

Richard Jefferson is a prominent molecular biologist, social entrepreneur and open innovation systems strategist. He is founder and CEO of Cambia and a Professor of Science, Technology & Law at the Queensland University of Technology (QUT). Richard is a graduate of the University of California’s College of Creative Studies, with a Ph.D. in molecular biology from University of Colorado. As a National Institutes of Health postdoc in Cambridge, UK, he conducted the world’s first field release of a biotech crop and developed the most widely cited and licensed enabling biotechnology and distributed it under open source principles. After becoming the first molecular biologist for the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization, he founded Cambia in 1991, an independent, global nonprofit social enterprise to bring efficiency, effectiveness, and equity to science-enabled innovation, based in Canberra, Australia. At Cambia, Richard developed the landmark hologenome theory of evolution, continued inventing, distributing, and supporting enabling technologies and created the BiOS (Biological Open Source) Initiative, the first open patent-based commons for science. Fifteen years ago, Cambia launched the Patent Lens, the most popular open global full-text resource for patent transparency. This work has culminated in the current vision of a global digital public good — ‘The Lens’ — to disrupt and democratize the innovation system, through ‘Innovation Cartography’. Richard is an ‘Outstanding Social Entrepreneur’ of the Schwab Foundation and a regular panelist at the World Economic Forum’s Davos annual meetings and summits. He served four years on the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council on Intellectual Property and is now on the Global Agenda Council on the Economics of Innovation. He is the recipient of the American Society of Plant Science’ ‘Leadership in Science’ award, was named to Scientific American’s list of the world’s 50 Most Influential Technologists, and is the inaugural Medalist of the Center for Science & Policy Outcomes. His work has featured in media in dozens of countries, and includes profiles in The Economist, New York Times, Newsweek, Red Herring, Nature, Science, Nature Biotechnology and many others.

The webinar is an information-gathering meeting for the committee in which the speakers are invited to provide input to the committee.

Presentations for each speaker start at the below timestamps:

  • Alan Bennett: 00:08:20
  • Diana Horvath: 00:42:04
  • Richard Jefferson: 01:18:17

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