Has GHI taken a position on the Free Trade Agreements pending before Congress?

“We have not as a group. I think each of the individual companies probably has.

“We’re at a (beginning) stage. We’ve just … put the last policy paper up on (our) website.”

So, with the policy papers you’ve set a foundation and now you’ll decide how to build from there.

“That’s exactly right. We make no pretense that these five areas are the only things that are important. But from our judgment these are area that agriculture companies know about and we think are some of the more important ones. That doesn’t mean we want to exclude other areas that people think are important.”

On how intensive private sector involvement in research should be…

“The founding four members of GHI spend $10 million per day on research.

“But there are areas of research where the private sector won’t go. Private sector companies won’t do research on things that, ultimately, won’t help them develop products that will be popular in the marketplace.

“There are some basic things that can help everyone in the public domain. An example is genome mapping of various crops. That’s something private companies may not take on themselves. But if it’s done at universities and other research institutions then all scientists around the world can use that to hasten the development of new products and technologies allowing us to produce more food while using less.”

On the best way to double food production in 40 years…

“We have to do all of it (from biotech and conventional plant breeding to irrigation and basic agronomics). We must pursue all of it. Think about it: we must grow more output in the next 40 years than we’ve grown in the last 10,000.

“And think about not only growing that food but also about processing capacity, storage capacity, the marketing capacity it will take to meet the challenges in a sustainable way.

“It isn’t just one thing (to tackle), by any stretch. It’s not just better seed technology. It’s not just irrigation. It’s everything involved.”