Educational Opportunities and Partnerships

Intellectual Property of CRISPR-Cas gene editing in agriculture

We are very excited to inform you about the conference “Intellectual property and access to CRISPR-Cas gene editing technologies for innovation in crop agriculture,” organized and hosted by Colorado State University on the 24th-25th of October 2019 at the Keystone Policy Center in Keystone, Colorado, USA. The conference is sponsored by the OECD Co-operative Research Programme on Biological Resource Management for Sustainable Agricultural Systems and the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture program on Social Implications of Food and Agricultural Technologies.

Some background: Following the breakthrough inventions involving CRISPR in 2012, one of the main stories has centered on patent disputes and complex intellectual property ownership. It is not unusual, of course, for “patent thickets” to form around complex biological research tools like CRISPR; yet, less attention has been drawn to the fact that in at least in one industry—crop agriculture—a solution to this problem has been introduced. The joint licensing framework announced by Pioneer (of DowDuPont) and the Broad Institute brings together all the foundational patent rights over CRISPR-Cas and makes them available to a broad range of potentially competing innovators in crop agriculture. This voluntary pooling of key patent rights has enormous implications for opportunities to advance and democratize genetic innovation. It also presents a compelling collective action model for IP, whether for other fields of use of CRISPR-Cas or for other platform technologies altogether.

Objectives: The objectives of this conference are

  1. to provide an accurate and up-to-date understanding of the complex and evolving landscape of CRISPR intellectual property rights and terms of access—including terms for research use and the joint-licensing arrangement for commercial use in crop agriculture;
  2. to compile a range of expert opinion and critical analyses of IP access from different disciplinary perspectives of biological sciences, policy, economics, law, and bioethics, as well as from different stakeholders across industry, governments, and other organizations;
  3. to explore implications of IP access on public perceptions, regulatory politics, and, by extension, the incentives and risks for innovations that seek to use CRISPR to create a more sustainable agriculture.

Draft agenda: Please plan on arriving on Wednesday October 23. A reception will be held at the Keystone Lodge beginning at 7:00PM (19:00). The main conference/workshop will begin at 8:00AM on Thursday October 24 and currently we are planning to conclude the main conference/workshop by 3:00PM (15:00) on Friday October 25. Given enough interest, an optional cultural program will be offered Friday evening October 24 as well as an excursion on Saturday October 25 to enjoy the mountain experience and continue networking.

A draft agenda is available on the conference website https://dare.agsci.colostate.edu/research-programs/crispr-conference/

Confirmed speakers for the conference so far include:

Fan Li Chou, Biotechnology Advisor to the US Secretary of Agriculture
Joanne Kamens, President, AddGene, USA
Matthias Müller, Open Innovation Initiative, Pioneer/Corteva Agrisciences, USA
Issi Rozen, Director of Licensing, The Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard University, USA
Robert Cook-Deegan, School for the Future of Innovation in Society, Arizona State University, USA
David Zilberman, University of California Berkeley, USA
Jake Sherkow, New York University, USA
Tania Bubela, Dean, School of Public Health, Simon Fraser University, Canada
Yoshiyuki Fujishima, New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization, Japan
Bo Heiden, Salgrehnska School of Medicine, University of Gothenburg, Sweden
Osmat Jefferson, Queensland University of Technology, Australia
Emily Marden, University of British Columbia, Canada
Dianne Nicol, University of Tasmania, Australia
Geertrui Van Overwalle, KU Leuven, Belgium
David Winickoff, Secretary, Working Group on Bio, Nano, and Converging Technologies, OECD
Dominique Guellec, Head of Science and Technology Policy Division, OECD

Conference registration: Please register for the conference by Wednesday, September 25 at the conference website https://dare.agsci.colostate.edu/research-programs/crispr-conference/.