Innovation was the buzz word during the 2011 USDA Science and Technology Plant Variety Protection Office (PVPO) Board Meeting.
The PVPO, part of the Agricultural Marketing Service’s (AMS) Science and Technology Program, gives legal intellectual property rights, similar to patents, to breeders of new varieties of plants which are produced by seeds such as corn and soybean or by tubers such as potatoes. The program protects intellectual property rights by offering certificates to owners of unique plant varieties so that they can introduce them to the marketplace. The board, made up of a diverse group of experts in the plant variety development field, met to discuss pressing industry matters and address how the PVPO conducts its business.
“Our goal with this group is to make sure that PVPO effectively meets industry demands and becomes an internationally recognized program,” said AMS Associate Administrator Dave Shipman. “With a world population estimated to reach 9 billion people in 2050, PVPO will play an important role in helping produce enough food to feed the world.”
Plant variety protection helps spur innovation by rewarding companies that produce unique plant varieties. This is beneficial to the population because these new varieties improve upon existing crops such as introducing disease resistant types. “Intellectual property rights encourage innovation,” said Shipman.
The PVPO continues to address industry needs by evaluating its business practices. The program is currently in the final phase of a business process review that analyzed its current operating procedures and suggested a new continuous workflow. “We are trying to modernize our processes so that we can effectively identify unique plant varieties,” said Dr. Robert Epstein, deputy administrator of the Science and Technology Program. Expected gains from this review include simplifying the plant variety application process for businesses and reducing the program’s processing time for reviewing these applications.
“Intellectual property protection is vital to economic growth and we want to make it easy for these companies to protect their plant varieties,” said Epstein. “Not only will these new varieties help produce food that consumers can eat, they will also feed cattle and other large animals, an invaluable service to all.”