Intellectual property mixed within our meals

Reading Time: 3 minutes

A farmer throws fertilizer on a rice paddy field in Dong Xung villageHow many times have you sat down for dinner and thought about intellectual property (IP) rights? Never, probably. But the food you eat contains critical IP, which is as important to food as IP is to pharmaceuticals and technology products.

By Matt Kovac

The challenge is that in an increasingly metropolitan world in which we live, most of us don’t pause to think about the fresh ingredients we enjoy that has come from the fields to the grocery store to the table.

Farmers in Asia and around the globe constantly face new challenges to bring food, fuel and fiber to a growing population. As the number of people increase and the amount of arable land decreases, producing enough food has become increasingly challenging.

Innovation with strong IP protection is critical to ensuring we continue to enjoy food on the table. The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) estimates that between 20 per cent and 40 per cent of the world’s crop production is lost annually to weeds, pests and diseases. Innovation is necessary to provide farmers with new tools to combat these growing challenges, and developing these new tools for farmers requires an upfront investment in research, time, and, of course, money. So the protection of IP remains vital to the scientists and entrepreneurs who invest decades of R&D and significant resources developing solutions to agricultural problems.

Protecting IP begins with a government commitment to innovation. Studies have shown that countries with stronger IP protection produce more food. Let’s look at the regulatory data that crop protection companies must generate and submit to national authorities to be permitted to market their products to farmers using Brazil and India as examples. Brazil has 10-year protection of regulatory data in place while India currently has none. Companies are required to submit regulatory data to national authorities to demonstrate they are safe and efficacious and this data is protected against competitors copying or using it during this period.

In the past five years, Brazil has yielded over twice the amount of cotton per acre as India despite the fact that India dedicates eight to 10 times more land to cotton production. But this just scratches the surface. Around the world, countries with more robust IP rights have greater access to innovative agricultural technologies, see greater crop yields, and become more competitive globally. Indeed, IP is crucial to bringing food to your table each and every day through private sector investment in R&D and subsequent advances in modern agriculture. And this investment isn’t small.  Average R&D costs for each active chemical ingredient approved by a national authority in the US and EU has climbed from $152 million in 1995 to $256 million in 2008.

And to ensure this investment continues greater work needs to be done on eradicating counterfeiters. For example, CropLife International and CropLife Asia are strongly involved in anti-counterfeiting efforts with law enforcement for more effective measures to protect farmers and the environment from the potential risks of illegal pesticides. Enforcement of IP by police, customs and regulators and more transparency in the international trade of pesticides is essential to sustain product innovation and ensure that pesticides are traded and used in a responsible manner.

Groundbreaking technologies have been essential in facing the monumental changes that have shaped agriculture over the past century, and will continue to influence how food is grown across the globe. Without strict IP enforcement, the development of some of the world’s most valuable innovations would not be possible.

Matt Kovac is the Advocacy Director at CropLife Asia. He can be contacted at matthew.kovac@croplifeasia.org

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Reading Time: 3 minutes

How many times have you sat down for dinner and thought about intellectual property (IP) rights? Never, probably. But the food you eat contains critical IP, which is as important to food as IP is to pharmaceuticals and technology products.

Reading Time: 3 minutes

A farmer throws fertilizer on a rice paddy field in Dong Xung villageHow many times have you sat down for dinner and thought about intellectual property (IP) rights? Never, probably. But the food you eat contains critical IP, which is as important to food as IP is to pharmaceuticals and technology products.

By Matt Kovac

The challenge is that in an increasingly metropolitan world in which we live, most of us don’t pause to think about the fresh ingredients we enjoy that has come from the fields to the grocery store to the table.

Farmers in Asia and around the globe constantly face new challenges to bring food, fuel and fiber to a growing population. As the number of people increase and the amount of arable land decreases, producing enough food has become increasingly challenging.

Innovation with strong IP protection is critical to ensuring we continue to enjoy food on the table. The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) estimates that between 20 per cent and 40 per cent of the world’s crop production is lost annually to weeds, pests and diseases. Innovation is necessary to provide farmers with new tools to combat these growing challenges, and developing these new tools for farmers requires an upfront investment in research, time, and, of course, money. So the protection of IP remains vital to the scientists and entrepreneurs who invest decades of R&D and significant resources developing solutions to agricultural problems.

Protecting IP begins with a government commitment to innovation. Studies have shown that countries with stronger IP protection produce more food. Let’s look at the regulatory data that crop protection companies must generate and submit to national authorities to be permitted to market their products to farmers using Brazil and India as examples. Brazil has 10-year protection of regulatory data in place while India currently has none. Companies are required to submit regulatory data to national authorities to demonstrate they are safe and efficacious and this data is protected against competitors copying or using it during this period.

In the past five years, Brazil has yielded over twice the amount of cotton per acre as India despite the fact that India dedicates eight to 10 times more land to cotton production. But this just scratches the surface. Around the world, countries with more robust IP rights have greater access to innovative agricultural technologies, see greater crop yields, and become more competitive globally. Indeed, IP is crucial to bringing food to your table each and every day through private sector investment in R&D and subsequent advances in modern agriculture. And this investment isn’t small.  Average R&D costs for each active chemical ingredient approved by a national authority in the US and EU has climbed from $152 million in 1995 to $256 million in 2008.

And to ensure this investment continues greater work needs to be done on eradicating counterfeiters. For example, CropLife International and CropLife Asia are strongly involved in anti-counterfeiting efforts with law enforcement for more effective measures to protect farmers and the environment from the potential risks of illegal pesticides. Enforcement of IP by police, customs and regulators and more transparency in the international trade of pesticides is essential to sustain product innovation and ensure that pesticides are traded and used in a responsible manner.

Groundbreaking technologies have been essential in facing the monumental changes that have shaped agriculture over the past century, and will continue to influence how food is grown across the globe. Without strict IP enforcement, the development of some of the world’s most valuable innovations would not be possible.

Matt Kovac is the Advocacy Director at CropLife Asia. He can be contacted at matthew.kovac@croplifeasia.org

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