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As an attorney and professor that does not focus on intellectual property law, I was a bit apprehensive about providing a keynote address for a Symposium focusing on “Agriculture, Intellectual Property, and Feeding the World in the 21st Century.” As I thought about this topic, knowing that there were other speakers who would focus more on the IP issues and technical aspects of various topics, I kept coming back to the importance of technology as we worktowards the goal of feeding the world, and the many ways in which innovation plays a role in meeting that goal. It also brought to mind some of the broader issues involving technology that can both impede and support attempts to successfully feed the world, both now and looking to the future. Food. Agriculture. Technology. There is no doubt that when it comes to these areas of law, regulation, policy, and practice, there is much that binds them, and yet they are also very divisive. A quick scan of almost any major and reputable news source will provide articles on a daily basis that pertain to not just one, but often all three of these topics. They are independent industries—science, agricultural production, and food manufacturing, but the truth is that in today’s world, they intersect more than ever. Consumer understanding of each of these industries is far from complete, and that can lead to many issues when it comes to the adoption of technology, agricultural production, and consumer food choices. When you incorporate government regulation, international relations, and infrastructure challenges, it becomes clear that technology alone will not feed the world. Feeding the world requires looking at issues beyond production and manufacturing, and into the challenges and issues that limit access to food and inputs. When it comes to feeding the world, I believe that technology and innovation will be a key driver and a major part of any successful attempts at addressing this challenge. Technology does not just mean increased use of genetically engineered crops, although that may likely be a part of the solution. To successfully feed the growing world, we need to take a broader look at technology and how it can be used to address challenges that impact the ability to increase or sustain production. We also need to look at the barriers to the adoption of various forms of technology, and what needs to be done on a global scale to support sustainable and self-sufficient food production across the world. Strong communication across sectors and working collaboratively will be required to tackle broader issues surrounding food access and in protecting the interests of everyone involved from supplier to grower to consumer.



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