A blog for ag innovators and investors
Viewing entries posted in January 2012
Greetings from San Francisco. Although, there is not a lot of agtech talk going on this week at the J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference, GAIN did host its first annual GAIN Ag Caucus, conceived of by GAIN member Charles Grabenstein.
The members and guests who attended the Agtech Caucus discussed agriculture, its future and challenges facing the introduction of innovative ag technologies into the marketplace due to government regulations.
The event was held at the Flying Leatherneck Club in the Marine Memorial Club near Union Square. Those in attendance included members Charles Grabenstein, Heritage Partners; Ron Meusen, Cultivian; Peter Brenders, BioteCanada; Pat Morand, Southwest Michigan First Ventures; Joshua Hofheimer, Sidley Austin; and yours truly. Our guests included: Derek Norman and Carol Marino, Syngenta Ventures, and Cort Barnes, New Island Capital.
We spent a good part of the evening just getting to know one another, talking about the crazy environment that JPM has produced over the years and GAIN’s need to attract new members.
Then the “caucus” kicked off. We had an excellent debate over the challenges associated with introducing GMO crops into the United States, and more so the rest of the world (ROW). The group agreed that greater regulatory cooperation between the United States, Canada and perhaps Australia would make the approval process more efficient and cost effective in these countries.
We also felt that the ROW’s rule that a GMO crop must be “approved everywhere before being sold anywhere” is a major hurdle to introduce the latest in crop innovation to countries where yields of major food crops are far less that that of the United States (in some cases, 70 to 80 percent less).
Of course, some of the lower yields are due to weather (longer cold seasons, shorter growing seasons), which in part could be dealt with by introducing GMO varieties with shorter maturity times and/or cold tolerance.
With the current ROW regulations, the group opined that minor food crops, which might grow well in some ROW countries, will never be optimized due to the costs and risks of meeting regulatory requirements. For this same reason, it is likely that no GMO crop can be introduced in the ROW by any company other than the really big seed companies.
Some of the members in attendance have testified to the appropriate bodies of their governments about this very subject, clearly we have some real experts in our membership. It might make a good topic for an upcoming meeting or web-based presentation. We will also need to decide if there is a role for GAIN to play in crafting more innovation-friendly regulations.
GAIN intends for the Ag Caucus to be an annual event held on Monday evening of JPM week. We hope to see many more members and some special guests in attendance next year.
Welcome to the ﬁrst GAIN Insight blog for 2012. We here at GAIN wish you all the best for a healthy and prosperous 2012.
GAIN had an excellent 2011. We launched numerous products for our members and those interested in agtech. These include:
• GAIN Insight™, the ofﬁcial blog of GAIN