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Case studies of public-private partnerships in agricultural biotechnologies: Lessons learned

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Text of Case studies of public-private partnerships in agricultural biotechnologies: Lessons learned

  • Denis J MurphyUniversity of South Wales, UK

    Denis Murphy, FAO Agri-biotechnology Symposium, Rome 2016

    Denis Murphy, FAO Agri-biotechnology Symposium, Rome 2016Denis J Murphy **

  • IntroductionPublic-private partnerships (PPPs) have played vital roles in the progress of modern agriculture, from the creation and dissemination of hybrid maize in the early 20th century to the Green Revolution of the 1960s and beyond.

    However, during most of the 20th century, much of the leadership in organization and innovation in agricultural systems in industrialized countries came from powerful public bodies, such as USDA and land-grant universities in the USA.

    This public sector dominance was much reduced after the 1980s as many state entities were privatized and/or suffered funding reductions.

    The process coincided with the growth of a dynamic, increasingly globalized agbiotech sector, originally based on agrochemical companies that diversified into bio-based areas including crop breeding and livestock management.

    As we move through the 21st century, future innovations and their implementation will require ever closer partnerships (i.e. PPPs) between public entities (including state organizations, research institutes, universities, extension bodies etc) and an increasingly diverse private sector that includes multinationals, SMEs, NGOs, citizen groups, retailers, small farmers etc.

  • IntroductionPublic-private partnerships (PPPs) have played vital roles in the progress of modern agriculture, from the creation and dissemination of hybrid maize in the early 20th century to the Green Revolution of the 1960s and beyond.

    However, during most of the 20th century, much of the leadership in organization and innovation in agricultural systems in industrialized countries came from powerful public bodies, such as USDA and land-grant universities in the USA.

    This public sector dominance was much reduced after the 1980s as many state entities were privatized and/or suffered funding reductions.

    The process coincided with the growth of a dynamic, increasingly globalized agbiotech sector, originally based on agrochemical companies that diversified into bio-based areas including crop breeding and livestock management.

    As we move through the 21st century, future innovations and their implementation will require ever closer partnerships (i.e. PPPs) between public entities (including state organizations, research institutes, universities, extension bodies etc) and an increasingly diverse private sector that includes multinationals, SMEs, NGOs, citizen groups, retailers, small farmers etc.

  • Conclusions from ABDC-10 Stronger partnerships among and within countries will facilitate development & use of biotechnologies, including:

    South-south and regional alliances

    Incorporation of traditional knowledge

    Public-private & research partnerships for sharing experiences, information & technologies

  • European Joint Research Centre report on PPPs, 2014PPPs are especially important in enabling smallholders to contribute to the nature and implementation of modern biotech-derived crops, most of which have hitherto addressed the needs of larger commercial farmers and agribusiness interests.

    However, strategies for translating research into new varieties are generally missing and PPPs are not much used for the development of minor crops

    PPPs tend to be highly dynamic as the nature of the various partners constantly changes, the technologies advance, and fresh challenges arise, such as climatic change and (possibly related) newly emerging threats including pests and diseases.

    PPPs involve many players and can occur at all scales from single farmers or farmer groups to globe-spanning international partnerships and sovereign governments

  • 1. Brinjal in Bangladesh: breaking the impasse on GM crop acceptance?Several subsistence GM crop candidates have faced lengthy delays, but in 2013 Bangladesh approved Bt brinjal/eggplant for planting after a rapid approval process

    In 2014 commercialization was initiated via a PPP when a total of 120 farmers planted 12 hectares

    There was strong political support from the government, with leadership from Ministry of Agriculture, and close collaboration with farmer groups and private sector breeders

    This approval by Bangladesh is important in that it has broken the impasse experienced in trying to gain approval for commercialization of Bt brinjal that blocked its introduction in India and the Philippines

    It also serves as an possible model for other developing countries.

  • 2. EMBRAPA in Brazil: PPP-led GM crop developmentEMBRAPA has been especially active in fostering PPPs in ag-biotech and has developed & commercialized GM crops that are grown by farmers ranging from smallholders to large international combines

    In 2014, Brazil commercially planted GM soybeans with insect resistance and herbicide tolerance on 5.2 Mha, up substantially from 2.2 Mha in 2013

    In 2015, EMBRAPA gained approval to commercialize:

    * GM virus resistant bean, planned for 2016 (smallholder used crop) * a novel herbicide tolerant soybean, developed via a PPP with BASF It is also developing GM folate-fortified lettuce and drought resistant sugarcane

    EMBRAPA is a large state enterprise that has taken the lead in innovative biotech crop development with PPP engagement: this was initially mostly commercially focused but with increasing trickle-down to smallholders

  • 3. Ag-biotech PPPs in AfricaOver the past decade there has been a range of PPP ventures in Africa focusing on both GM and non-GM crops aimed at smallholders

    For example, Cameroon, Egypt, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Nigeria, and Uganda have conducted field trials on the following broad range of staple and orphan crops: rice, maize, wheat, sorghum, bananas, cassava, and sweet potato

    Water Efficient Maize for Africa (WEMA) is a major PPP expected to deliver its first GM drought tolerant maize with Bt insect resistance in South Africa as early as 2017, followed by Kenya and Uganda, and then by Mozambique and Tanzania, subject to regulatory approval

    Over the past two years there has been a distinct improvement in state involvement with biotech-related PPPs and an increasing willingness to engage in regulatory processes, especially for GM crops in Africa

  • Advanced breeding technologies

    Mass clonal propagation

    Hybrid creation

    DNA marker assisted selection

    Genomics

    Mutagenesis/TILLING

    Classical Transgenesis (genetic engineering or GM)

    Gene editing: CRISPRs, ZNFs, TALENs etc

    These technologies have created unprecedented opportunities for advances in the biological performance of food cropsBut some key technologies &/or expertises reside within, or are best exploited via, the private sector hence the need for more PPPs

  • Advanced breeding technologies

    Mass clonal propagation

    Hybrid creation

    DNA marker assisted selection

    Genomics

    Mutagenesis/TILLING

    Classical Transgenesis (genetic engineering or GM)

    Gene editing: CRISPRs, ZNFs, TALENs etc

    These technologies have created unprecedented opportunities for advances in the biological performance of food cropsBut some key technologies &/or expertises reside within, or are best exploited via, the private sector hence the need for more PPPs

  • Future lessons 1The major lessons from recent PPP experiences are that success requires: full commitment by host countriesappropriate regulatory systems the sustained participation of all partners, especially smallholders, over the entire duration of what are often complex and long term ventures

    Such lessons are especially important given recent developments in ag-biotec

    During the last few years, and especially in 2015, there has been a veritable revolution in genetic technologies with the development of gene editing methods such as CRISPRs, ZFNs, and TALENs

    In terms of crop breeding, this means that it will soon be possible to progress from the random insertion of single or small numbers of genes into a genome (as in traditional GM) to the highly precise insertion into a defined location of large numbers of genes, chromosome segments or pseudo-segments encoding entire metabolic pathways into virtually any plant species.

  • Gene editing: e.g. Clustered regularly-interspaced short palindromic repeats (CRISPR) In 2015 Dupont acquired rights to CRISPR in plants, Bayer in therapeutics

    Fortunately, it now seems there are multiple types of CRISPR that may not be subject to current patents (e.g. Cas9, Cpf1, C2c1)

    Feb 2016: there may well be other equally powerful gene editing systems awaiting discovery

    (CRISPR absent from most bacterial lineages)

    This is good news for public-good application of such technologies potentially as open-source tools

  • Future lessons 2Agbiotech is a highly dynamic field, both scientifically and in terms of the application landscapes, both public and private:

    In the last few weeks a mega-merger of two agbiotech giants, Dow Chemical and Dupont, valued at $130 billion has been announced

    In the last few weeks the probable sale of another agbiotech giant, Syngenta, to the state owned enterprise ChemChina was announced

    (Monsanto, DuPont, Syngenta account for $10.3 billion, or 47% of the global proprietary seed market)

    Meanwhile there is a heated dispute over the patent rights to CRISPR technology between several academic institutions, i.e. UC Berkeley, MIT, and the Broad Inst.

  • Future lessons 3These new genetic technologies may make much of the current GM-based crop improvement and its risk assessment & regulation obsolete

    Indeed, there are already calls that organisms altered by gene editing should not be characterized as GMOs

    Gene editing can considerably widen the range of traits (especially smallholder-relevant traits in hitherto orphan crops) and these will be altered much more rapidly and cheaply than was hitherto possible

    There is an urgent need to accelerate capacity building in all forms of agbiotech and related public outreach in ALL countries

    This provides a golden opportunity for the emergence of a new generation of innovative PPPs and new agbiotech paradigms aimed specifically at improving smallholder agriculture as we face up to increasing food security challenges across the world

  • Thank you for your attention

    PPPs

  • Oxford University PressCABI PressCambridge University PressSome recent books relating to plant breeding & PPPsElsevierSpringerWileyBlackwellScope

    Denis J Murphy Denis J Murphy **