VOICES Big Solutions: Innovation and Collaboration at Work

By James C. Borel

The world faces a challenge—feeding 9 billion people by 2050 in sustainable ways with limited land and resources. We have made tremendous strides over the last century, but agriculture needs to continue to be more productive —to grow more on each acre of land.

We can meet the global food security challenge, but only if we empower collaboration and enhance the ability of farmers in all parts of the world to be as productive as possible.

One aspect of collaboration involves research universities and seed companies. The important research done in universities can be invaluable in finding new approaches to seed technology and crop production management. One example is a research collaboration that we, at DuPont, began in 2009 with Iowa State. We partnered to develop a new technology to more effectively develop biotech traits in plants and improve drought tolerance in corn.

We also work with the International Rice Research Institute in the Philippines that brings together the Institute’s rice germplasm pool with DuPont’s capabilities in molecular analysis, commercial-scale breeding and field locations for testing hybrids.Partnerships like this could contribute to making available to rice breeders and farmers throughout Asia better advanced breeding lines and better hybrids.

At DuPont, we are a science company that believes in innovation and collaboration. We take seriously the example of the Pioneer Hi-Bred founder, Henry Wallace, who built his company by bringing innovation into the American cornfields. But we know that we cannot invent everything ourselves. So, in addition to significant research investments internally, we are also focused on how to encourage innovation more broadly.

New technology can be daunting to some, but Norman Borlaug, agronomist and Nobel Laureate, loved learning about new things. And he knew the formula: better innovation and more collaboration to improve agriculture, to empower farmers, to feed the world.

That was his formula. It is our formula at DuPont.

I think of agriculture as the “optimistic science.” Because together, with innovation and collaboration, we can help do what the world needs us to get done.

Click here for Borel’s confetti corn recipe.