The Current Situation and Prognostications

ASBP's long-term goal is to commercialize the GM potato and put this technology into the hands of both resource-poor and commercial farmers in developing countries. As a step towards the goal, ASBP and USAID, the main financial sponsor of the project, have begun licensing discussions with the Syngenta Company that owns the CRYlIal gene property rights. The company is willing to grant a semi-commercial licence to developing countries, but wants liability release and assurance that regulatory approvals are granted before licensing in the recipient country. Other biotechnology owners are also requiring regulatory approvals (addressing biosafety and food safety) as a precondition for freedom to operate (FTO) commercially. Thus, IPRs and biosafety issues are closely tied together. Owners of proprietary technologies would like to ensure stewardship and address liability issues before granting permission for humanitarian or commercial release. MSU is currently negotiating a licence to commercialize this technology in South Africa; however, there are a number of issues to be resolved to meet the requirements of various stakeholders in South Africa and the Syngenta Company. In addition, there are other IPs (e.g. promoters and markers) in Bt potatoes that are owned by third parties. The FTOs on the third party IPs will have to be resolved before this technology is commercialized in developing countries.

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