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Intellectual Property Rights and Plant Biotechnology APPENDIX A Forum Program and Discussion Questions Molecular biology has both transformed the science of biology and spawned the new industry of biotechnology. Biotechnology is a knowledge-based industry in which research breakthroughs are so broadly distributed that no single organization can keep pace with the information flow. Timely access to knowledge and resources that are otherwise unavailable are being provided increasingly through collaborative research projects involving industry, academe, and government. The protection of intellectual property has arguably been the single most difficult issue to resolve in the realignment of partnerships between universities and industries in what is perhaps the most significant reorganization of basic research in the United States since Vannevar Bush. While stronger protection of intellectual property has increased incentives for private-sector investment in new agricultural technology, there is some concern that protective measures will impede the long-term progress of plant science. The forum will attempt to clarify the issues and explore possible solutions by examining controversies about intellectual property and its impact on plant biotechnology and fundamental research. It will provide a neutral setting to promote the open exchange of views and will focus on three industrial applications of plant biotechnology: phytoremediation, biobased energy, and field crop breeding. To promote an intersector dialogue, panels of speakers from universities, industry, and federal agencies will examine issues and possible responses for each application. Discussion will be organized so as to compare and contrast issues among collaborators and across the plant sciences.
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Intellectual Property Rights and Plant Biotechnology GOALS The goals of the forum will be to bring together basic researchers in plant biology, policymakers, and those involved with the application of research in plant molecular biology. Participants will include research scientists; research and technology transfer managers, funders, and policymakers; product developers; and other experts in plant-based industries (especially crop genetics, biobased energy, and phytoremediation). FORMAT Speakers will discuss which intellectual property rights issues are the most important to address, which might be amenable to policy intervention, and whether further study of the issues and responses is warranted. The forum will provide a neutral setting to promote the open exchange of views. A summary report of the forum will be prepared for publication by the National Academy Press. The publication will not include recommendations. To encourage open discussion, no statements by speakers will be printed in the report without permission. QUESTIONS The following are among the questions relating to plant biotechnology that participants will consider: Is technology transfer managed in a way that provides for scientific progress, incentives for commercial development, and public benefit? That is, are new techniques, information, research tools, and other forms of intellectual property effectively disseminated? If not, what improvements might be made? What benefits and problems result from negotiations or alliances between university, government, and commercial laboratories? How do universities, government, and industry differ in their missions, motives, and expectations for collaborations? What licensing strategies and procedures for technology transfer will be most beneficial for the different sectors? Do current means for protecting intellectual property rights adequately encourage both scientific progress and commercial development? Is the level of protection sufficiently strong to encourage commercial investment in the development of innovative products and techniques and yet sufficiently generous so that free exchange of scientific information is not impeded? Do current patenting practices need to be modified?
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Intellectual Property Rights and Plant Biotechnology What effect could current strategies for protection of intellectual property have on the progress of basic research and the future of plant biotechnology? Is support for research into fundamental mechanisms adequately balanced with support for research for which commercial applications are closer at hand?
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