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ARS, Industry Partnerships Yield Innovations for Consumers, Farmers

By Rosalie Marion Bliss
June 23, 2003

As a leader in federal technology transfer, the Agricultural Research Service's Office of Technology Transfer (OTT) is aggressively seeking partnerships with a variety of industrial groups to bring government-based R&D into the mainstream to directly benefit American consumers and farmers.

This week, several top-level ARS scientists will be highlighting public-private partnerships during the BIO 2003 Annual Convention in Washington, D.C. BIO 2003 is sponsored by the Biotechnology Industry Organization, based in Washington. BIO 2003 will host about 200 sessions and symposiums from today through June 25 at the Washington Convention Center.

Richard J. Brenner, ARS deputy assistant administrator for OTT, will address issues involved in ARS Cooperative Research and Development Agreements (CRADAs) during a session entitled "Working With Federal Laboratories: Truth Versus Myth." ARS, the chief scientific research agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, has entered into 1,147 CRADAs aimed at commercializing innovative agricultural technologies.

Phyllis Johnson, director of the ARS Henry A. Wallace Beltsville (Md.) Agricultural Research Center (BARC), will chair a session entitled "Agricultural Biotechnology for Development: Models for Engaging the Private Sector." ARS Acting Associate Deputy Administrator Joseph Spence and BARC's Vegetable Laboratory leader, Autar Mattoo, will speak about integrating nutritional crops and human health during the session, "Functional Foods: Can You Get Too Much of a Good Thing?"

OTT also has launched a new page on its web site that lists a variety of newly available partnering opportunities with ARS.

One recent ARS CRADA enables personal computer and laptop users to download, free of charge, a user-friendly, searchable version of ARS' premier nutrient database of 6,000-plus food items. (details)

Partnerships now are being sought to develop gluten-free food products for grain-sensitive consumers, and to market new software to help farmers pre-analyze economic and environmental outcomes of various management options, among others.

Private companies that enter into CRADAs are allowed the first right to license inventions that emerge during the course of such agreements. An informative, downloadable brochure describing a variety of ARS partnership structures is available.