Plant biotechnology research can be found in more than just the private sector. Universities, government institutions and non-profits in the public sector around the world are also working hard to develop new biotech innovations for farmers and consumers.
Many farmers grow biotech crops which were developed through public sector research. Nearly all papaya farmers in Hawaii grow a biotech variety developed by the University of Hawaii and many Brazilian growers are planting biotech soybean varieties developed by EMBRAPA, the national public sector research institute. In the future, growers could be planting rice fortified with cholesterol-reducing resveratrol from the National Institute of Crop Science in Korea, aphid-resistant wheat from the Rothamsted Research Institute in the UK or bananas with higher levels of vitamin A from the Uganda National Agricultural Research Organization. Bananas resistant to bacterial wilt have also been developed through a partnership in East Africa. The potential of research being done in the public sector is very exciting for the future of farming.
However, the ideal expertise, technologies and resources to develop a biotech innovation and take it to farmers can often be spread across the public and private sectors. University researchers may have the right technology and knowledge of local farming needs, but not the necessary experience in working through a regulatory system or commercial market. The private and public sectors often partner with each other in order to combine their resources to develop and take new and innovative biotech crops to market. These collaborations, known as public-private partnerships (PPPs), offer a way for the two sectors to pursue collaborative projects or local challenges and ultimately bring greater innovation to our world¹s farmers. Successful biotech PPPs include:
- Water Efficient Maize for Africa: Addressing crippling drought in Africa through a formal collaboration between the private sector and five leading African national research institutes.
- BioCassava Plus: Improving the nutritional quality of cassava, the primary calorie source for 250 million Africans. Partners include non-profits, national research institutes and plant biotechnology companies.
- Improved Wheat: Developing higher-yielding Australian wheat varieties that can stand up to climate change through a partnership between private sector, government researchers and non-profits.
- African Biofortified Sorghum Creating a healthier, more nutritious sorghum with higher levels of iron and zinc through key technologies donated to research institutes by the private sector.
Our industry encourages plant biotechnology research by a diversity of scientists from universities, government institutions, non-profits and the private sector, as they bring together the plant science’s best knowledge and expertise to improve the tools and techniques available to farmers.
To learn more about public-sector biotech research and PPPs, read CropLife International’s publication Working Together to Help Farmers: The Benefits of Public Private Partnerships or visit the Syngenta Foundation or African Agricultural Technology Foundation websites, two non-profits whose missions are to form productive PPPs to benefit smallholders and rural communities.