Farm Progress

Understanding how intellectual property protections drive innovation and the growth of agriculture will be a key to meeting future food demands.

May 1, 2013

3 Min Read

CropLife International has identified the top five facts everyone should know about the importance of intellectual property (IP) to agricultural innovation.

Understanding how IP protections can encourage new innovations and drive the growth of agriculture, as well as supporting effective IP rights, will be critical to meeting future food demands:

1. Agriculture has a long history of innovation.

From the introduction of the first hybrid maize varieties a century ago to modern biotech seeds, new innovations in agriculture continue to revolutionize how farmers grow our food. Over the last 50 years, farmers have tripled global food production thanks to innovative products such as crop protection products and plant biotechnology seeds.

However, despite this long history of innovation, meeting the future demands for food will require more research and development (R&D) than ever before. This can only be achieved if innovators and product developers are rewarded for their developments through effective IP protection, and then encouraged to invest the necessary resources required for long-term R&D.

2. Innovation is enabled through IP protections.

In any industry, IP rights are the cornerstone for innovation and progress. Protecting IP enables innovation by ensuring inventors are rewarded for their investments and encourages continued research and development of new technologies and products that benefit farmers, consumers and the environment.

3. Plant science innovation is R&D-intensive and costly.
The plant science industry ranks in the top four global sectors for the most investment in developing new products. The industry's top 10 companies annually invest about $2.25 billion, or 7.5 percent of sales into developing new products.

For the plant science industry to develop just one crop protection product, it takes nearly 10 years and $256 million dollars. One plant biotechnology product takes over 13 years and $136 million dollars.

IP protections helps to ensure that industry has the ability to continually invest in developing new technologies that will help farmers protect and expand our food supply.


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4. IP protections support access to new technologies.

The plant science industry is partnering with public sector institutions in every continent to donate new technologies to address local agricultural challenges. Such partnerships share resources and expertise to ensure that innovations reach and benefit farmers in developing regions while helping to build agricultural knowledge at a local level.

As a result greater innovation can be put in the hands of our world's farmers, while companies maintain the protections needed to develop the next generation of technologies.

5. Future innovation will require IP.

In the next 40 years, the agriculture industry will need to expand food production to meet the needs of 9 billion people. Achieving this requires a continuous pipeline of new technologies that will help farmers grow their crops. Strong IP protection will enable the plant science industry to invest in the R&D required to produce these tools.

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