Crisper-CAS Conference

Control and Access: Intellectual property and CRISPR-Cas gene editing for innovation in crop agriculture

October 24-25, 2019 Keystone Policy Center and Keystone Lodge Keystone, Colorado, USA

Organized by Colorado State University, with support from: Program on Social Implications of Food and Agricultural Technologies National Institutes of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)   Programme on Biological Resources in Agriculture Co-operative Research Programme (CRP) of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD)

Conference Objectives

  1. to provide understanding of the complex and evolving IP landscape, including the licensing arrangements, that governs access to CRISPR for use in commercial crop agriculture
  2. to compile a range of expert opinion and critical analyses of the current IP situation, as well as perceptions, concerns, and feedback from stakeholders across industry, governments, and NGOs
  3. to explore implications of the IP and licensing regime on public perceptions, regulatory politics, and, by extension, the incentives and risks of using CRISPR across a wide range of innovations for sustainable agriculture


In 2012 scientific breakthroughs turned a molecular defense mechanism in bacteria called CRISPR-Cas it into a powerful tool for making changes or “edits” to the DNA sequences of any living organisms. It works in microbes, animals, and plants, and promises to be useful for a wide range of applications ranging from human health to improvements in crops. These breakthroughs led to a scramble by universities and companies to secure patents on different aspects of the technology. Then came several years of high profile patent disputes and the weaving of a complex web of licensing deals amongst venture-capital funded startups and large corporations. In the meantime, scientists in academic laboratories around the world were quickly adopting CRISPR gene editing tools for work in their laboratories, thanks to free dissemination for academic research use, via a nonprofit organization called AddGene. The world seems poised for further eruptions of legal conflict as new gene-edited advances are beginning to emerge from the lab and start moving toward commercial application. Yet, against this backdrop, in late 2017 an agreement was announced between Pioneer-DuPont (now Corteva AgSciences) and the Broad Institute, holders of the two largest CRISPR patent portfolios. They are offering non-exclusive licenses for commercial use of the full suite of foundational CRISPR patents in crop agriculture. In the past, proprietary control over research tools—such as those used to create GMO crops—come to be associated with lack of transparency, a general loss of “social license” to use that technology and increased political pressure for regulatory scrutiny. Will things play out differently for the use of CRISPR gene editing in crop agriculture? If so, might the CRISPR licensing framework in agriculture become a model for other industries or technologies?

Conference advisory board members

Dr. Rafael Blasco, INIA, Ministry of Science and Innovation, Spain, and member of Scientific Advisory Board, Co-operative Research Programme (CRP) Biological Resource Management for Sustainable Agricultural Systems, Trade and Agriculture Directorate, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD)

Julie Shapiro, Senior Policy Director, Keystone Policy Center

Dr. Robert Cook-Deegan, MD, Professor, School for the Future of Innovation in Society, Arizona State University

Jacob Sherkow, JD, Professor of Law, Innovation Center for Law and Technology, New York Law School

Dr. David Winickoff, Secretary, Working Party on Bio-, Nano- and Converging Technologies (BNCT), Directorate for Science, Technology and Innovation, OECD


Dr. Gregory D. Graff
Professor, Economics of Innovation and Entrepreneurship
Department of Agricultural & Resource Economics
College of Agricultural Sciences
Colorado State University

Sponsored by

Organized by

United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)
National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA)
Program on Social Implications of Food and Agricultural Technologies


The OECD Co-operative Research Programme:

Biological Resource Management for Sustainable Agricultural Systems


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