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Agricultural Biotechnology Research for Public and Private Goods: The Roles of University-Industry Relationships

Agricultural biotechnology has the potential to improve production and human health and reduce agricultural pollution. Many universities are involved in close working relationships with agricultural biotechnology firms, yet the motivations shaping the arrangements and the effects on types of products developed are not well understood. USDA funded a three-year, $2 million national study to assess university-industry research, licensing, and other partnerships, with special emphasis on the mix of public and private goods provided through agricultural biotechnology. Farm Foundation participated with Portland State University, Oregon State University, University of California-Davis, Clarkson University, and Winrock International's Henry A. Wallace Center for Agricultural and Environmental Policy.

The project investigators interviewed university and industry personnel; surveyed university scientists, technology officers, and administrators; and did socioeconomic analysis to identify problems and potential policies to foster the development of products with traits that promote widespread public benefits.

Findings of the study were the focus of a May 2006 conference.  The conference program addressed the increasingly intertwined roles of universities and industry in science and technology development, with a focus on agricultural biotechnology.  Leading academic scientists, research administrators, and industry representatives presented the latest findings and experiences regarding university-industry relationships.  The  program addressed salient issues in the public and private sectors.

This  Farm Foundation Issue Report summaries the conference discussions.

This conference was sponsored by Portland State University, Farm Foundation, Cooperative States Research, Education and Extension Service, USDA, and Economic Research Service, USDA.

Background information on university-industry relationships in agricultural biotechnology can be found at

This conference was part of a project supported by Initiative for Future Agriculture and Food Systems Grant No. 2001-52100-11217 from the USDA Cooperative State Research, Education and Extension Service.






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