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Bt Maize. Photo by CIMMYT.

Innovation has been the engine of economic growth and development since the human species developed its first conscious thoughts. From the use of fire and other tools to the semi-conductor to synthethic biology. As such, innovation is understood as the creation of a new product, method of production or a way of doing things that is radically different and better than before. Innovation is thus tied to use and to providing benefits to users.

Note that I am not saying that an innovation has to benefit every single user. After all, there have been millions of humans burned by fire. In this sense, innovation comes at a price. It is an unpredictable process as there is no guarantee that perfoming research or investing in developing innovations will yield an innovation, nor the benefits of innovation use are guaranteed either. We may conduct socio-economic assessments studies to try and understand what the “true value” of a potential innovation is to society, yet these socio-economic assessments are packed with subjectivities, assumptions and uncertainties of their own.

In the short run innovation can (and sometimes do) cause economic instability and even dislocations to user. Experience over time has shown that in the long run promoting innovation is the key to address our ever increasing challenges as a species on earth, and it can help guarantee our survival.

We cannot close on the door on any potential option that we have to promote innovation in agriculture. THis does not mean that we will disregard any older or traditional knowledge, in fact this is call for us to evaluate ALL available options and choose what works and discard what doesn’t. We cannot afford to block any agricultural production alternative provided it has the potential to improve production, productivity, and/or sustainability of resource use. THis is the prudent course of action, as it considers each ande every production alternative on a case by case basis, while allowing the possiblity of finding synergies and novel combinations.

I hope we indeed put innovation at the forefront of our efforts in, which many people forget is in the end, a race against time that we have in agriculture

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