Submitted to: GM Crops
Publication Type: Other
Publication Acceptance Date: 1/12/2010
Publication Date: 3/1/2010
Citation: Sappington, T.W., Ostlie, K.R., Difonzo, C., Hibbard, B.E., Krupke, C.H., Porter, P., Pueppke, S., Shields, E.J., Tollefson, J.J. 2010. Conducting Public-sector Research on Commercialized Transgenic Seed: In Search of a Paradigm that Works. GM Crops. 1(2):55-58. Interpretive Summary:
Technical Abstract: Public-sector scientists have a mandate to independently evaluate agricultural products available to American farmers on the open market, whereas the companies that sell the products are concerned about protecting their intellectual property. As a consequence of the latter concern, public scientists currently are prohibited by industry-imposed rules from conducting research on commercialized transgenic crop seed without the permission of the company or companies involved. Thus, companies have taken on the role of gatekeepers, in that they have the power to control who conducts research on their commercialized transgenic products, what that research can entail, and whether the results can be published in the peer-reviewed literature. Industry acknowledged the seriousness of the problem after public warnings by a large group of entomologists to EPA and scientific advisory panels that the assumption of independence of public-sector studies on these products is no longer valid under current restrictions. Both industry and public scientists are working to find an amicable, mutually-acceptable solution. Recently, the American Seed Trade Association (ASTA), as a professional umbrella organization for transgenic seed companies, brokered a draft set of principles designed to protect legitimate property rights while allowing public scientists independence to conduct research on their commercialized products without company interference. The most likely method of implementation will be through multiyear blanket agreements between each company and each requesting public institution. Because this represents a voluntary approach on the part of industry, there are a number of potential pitfalls for public scientists, primarily in the realm of uniform interpretation and implementation of the principles across companies. Nevertheless, this effort represents a major step forward, and there is reason for optimism that this approach can be made to work to the benefit of industry, public scientists, and the American public.