Publications: ISAAA Briefs

No. 19 - 2000

An Overview of ISAAA from 1999 to 2000

Anatole F. Krattiger
Executive Director, ISAAA


Published by: The International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications (ISAAA). Ithaca, New York 
Copyright: (2000) International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications (ISAAA) 
Reproduction of this publication for educational or other noncommercial purposes is authorized without prior permission from the copyright holder, provided the source is properly acknowledged.
Reproduction for resale or other commercial purposes is prohibited without the prior written permission from the copyright holder.
Correct Citation: Krattiger, A.F. 2000. An Overview of ISAAA from 1992 to 2000. ISAAA Briefs No. 19. ISAAA: Ithaca, NY. 24 pp.
ISBN: 1-892456-23-0
Publication Orders:

Please contact the ISAAA SEAsiaCenter, write to, or order online.

ISAAA SEAsiaCenter
c/o IRRI
DAPO Box 7777
Metro Manila, The Philippines



Executive Summary

1. Rationale of ISAAA's Creation 

2. ISAAA's Establishment and History 

2.1 The Inception

2.2 The Three-Year External Review of ISAAA (1992-1994)

2.3 ISAAA from 1995-Present: The Evolving Institutional Structure

3. ISAAA's Strategy and Programs 

3.1 Overview

3.2 Project Strategy

3.3 Project Implementation

3.4 Ensuring Impact

3.5 Project and Program support services

3.5.1 Biosafety and Food Safety

3.5.2 Intellectual Property/Technology Transfer (IP/TT) Initiative

3.5.3 The ISAAA Private Sector Biotechnology Fellowship Program

3.5.4 Global Information Sharing and Food Biotechnology Policy/Public Acceptance 

4. Challenges and Opportunities

4.1 Past challenges and responses - Comparative advantage of ISAAA today - Lessons learned

4.1.1 Pioneer role of ISAAA in successful biotechnology transfer projects

4.1.2 Comparative advantage and interface between public-private sector

4.1.3 No financial interests in the technology

4.1.4 No ownership of products being transferred

4.1.5 Complementary activities/role to the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR)

4.2 ISAAA's current effectiveness

4.3 Future challenges and strategic responses

4.3.1 General Challenges

4.3.2 Public Acceptance and the complexity of intellectual property management

4.3.3 Inefficient seed distribution systems and intellectual property laws

5. Conclusions: Turning stumbling blocks into stepping stones


References and List of ISAAA Publications

Executive Summary

The present document shares ISAAA's strategy and approaches over the first eight years of its existence, and details and discusses the strategic responses the institution has made programmatically and strategically to the changing environment in which ISAAA has operated.



ISAAA seeks to ensure future food security, bring about a more sustainable agriculture, and contribute to poverty alleviation through a more equitable adoption of new agricultural biotechnologies. Response As a result of the significant changes in international agriculture that emerged during the 1980's, in particular the advent of biotechnology and proprietary science, the following responses were taken:

  • Established a nonprofit broker service to facilitate agri-biotechnology transfer to developing countries; o Developed a pragmatic program based on actual transfers and partnerships;

  • Built on the comparative advantages of the private sector (in the North) and the public sector (in the South), and encourage South-South collaboration;

  • Instilled trust and confidence between the various key players in agri-biotechnology;

  • In Africa, strengthen programmatic activities initially in one country (Kenya) and then regionalize activities;

  • In Southeast Asia, develop activities predominantly through regional collaboration;

  • In Latin America, initiate activities in Mexico and Brazil, and in the future develop an appropriate strategy to assist the region, particularly IP management services.



Contribute to poverty alleviation by improving crop productivity, increasing income generation, and enhancing environmental security for resource-poor farmers.

With the advent of the first products in agriculture stemming from the life sciences, the potential to improve the human situation is historically unprecedented. Globalization, despite its many problems, now enables the mobilization of worldwide science and technology for the betterment of humankind. However, the promise is ours only if we manage to deploy improved products to the poor and wealthy alike.


Provide honest broker services to transfer and deliver appropriate biotech applications through the building of partnerships between institutions in the South and the private sector in the North and, where possible, to strengthen South- South collaboration.

The strategy stakes out concrete, tangible end points to the transfer and delivery of appropriate biotechnology applications by building partnerships that capitalize on the comparative advantages of the public and private sectors to optimally sustain product delivery.


Program and Services

ISAAA has been set up to implement projects in Africa, Southeast Asia, and Latin America with the singular aim of delivering improved products to poor farmers (as opposed to research or the generation of knowledge). The specific services ISAAA offers to achieve these objectives are as follows:

  • Assist developing countries to identify biotechnology priorities and needs and to assess potential socio-economic impacts.

  • Monitor in industrialized countries the availability of proprietary biotechnology applications and evaluate their appropriateness for transfer.

  • Provide honest broker services by developing project proposals and implementation plans, matching the needs of specific countries/institutions with those who can meet those needs.

  • Mobilize funds from donor agencies to implement projects.

  • Counsel developing countries on a range of subjects associated with the deployment of biotechnology, including biosafety, food safety, intellectual property rights, plant breeder's rights, managing the deployment of resistant genes, and assessing socio- economic impacts.

Project Selection Criteria

The criteria that ISAAA applies throughout its program can be narrowed down and illustrated through a dichotomous key, which applies systematic criteria at each step.