How we can help farmers help the planet

October 27, 2020
Election Day is one week away. Today, we have a real-life example of how the Growing Climate Solutions Act could help farmers and the planet, as well as an explainer of “evergreening,” which you may be hearing more often in conversations about drug pricing. (680 words,…
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Election Day is one week away. Today, we have a real-life example of how the Growing Climate Solutions Act could help farmers and the planet, as well as an explainer of “evergreening,” which you may be hearing more often in conversations about drug pricing. (680 words, 3 minutes)

 
Election Day is one week away. Get ready at www.bio.org/vote.

How we can help farmers help the planet

 
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Fewer pesticides, larger yields, and more money for farmers? It sounds too good to be true, but it’s not—and agriculture can become even more sustainable thanks to biotechnology.

Many farmers have already adopted practices that are making farms more profitable and environmentally friendly. Biotech crops allow farmers to reduce tilling and utilize cover crops that capture more carbon in the soil, which reduces greenhouse gas emissions and pesticide use while creating healthier soil and crops. 

A Kansas company has turned this into a business model that benefits farmers and the planet. Indigo Agriculture pays farmers who “reduce on-farm emissions, remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, and replenish soil,” thereby generating carbon credits, explains The Morning Sun in Kansas.

The carbon credits are then purchased by corporations—who pay $15 to $30 per acre annually to several hundred Kansas farmers who have signed up for Indigo’s program.

“With millions of acres of farmland already at play in the Indigo Carbon program, the company is hoping to grow the initiative that creates financial incentives for farming carbon across the U.S.,” the report continues.

And thanks to biotech breakthroughs like soil microbes and biostimulants, farmers can be an even bigger part of the climate solution.

So, how do we bring this kind of innovative idea to other farmers? To start, Congress should pass the Growing Climate Solutions Act, which would create a federal carbon sequestration certification program and give America’s farmers the resources to participate in carbon markets. 

But we need you to ask your lawmakers to support it. Check out the BIOAction campaign to urge them to support farmers and the planet.

 
 
 
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An explainer on “evergreening”

 
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In the coming months, we can expect lots of conversations about prescription drug pricing—and you’ll likely hear the term “evergreening.” Here’s an explainer on what the term means—and why it relies on myths.

As background, it’s important to understand the huge investment required to develop a new drug—on average six years and $2.6 billion to research and develop a new molecule, says law professor Erika Lietzan in a recent piece for Cato Regulation.

So, what is evergreening? In simplest terms, it’s the false notion that drug manufacturers make minor changes to existing drugs to obtain new patents or regulatory exclusivity, thereby extending their market “monopoly.”

Most often, people use the term “when an innovator introduces a newer version of its own product that is already on the market,” continues Prof. Lietzan

However: “Once the myths of ‘evergreening’ are laid bare, it becomes apparent that proponents of these proposals really want for the government to limit medical innovators to one medical product in the marketplace for each useful new molecule discovered,” she explains.

Arguments for regulatory reform that use the term “evergreening” are grounded in three myths:

Myth #1: Innovators extend their patents. “This is legally impossible,” she says. 

Myth #2: Competitors are blocked. Nope. “[O]nce the initial patent and (if applicable) statutory exclusivity on the innovator’s active ingredient have expired, its competitors have substantial freedom to operate.” 

Myth #3: Automatic substitution is critical. Many assume a new version of a drug “precludes uptake of less expensive medicines by interfering with automatic pharmacy substitution under state law.” The reality: “an innovator’s newer product creates a new choice for doctors and payers.” 

The bottom line: patents drive innovation of both new and improved products. While we need to discuss reforms to reduce patients’ out-of-pocket costs, any that rely on the idea of “evergreening” miss the point.

 
 
 
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President Trump’s Tuesday: Campaigning in Michigan (Lansing), Wisconsin (La Crosse and West Salem), and Nebraska (Omaha).

What’s Happening on Capitol Hill: The Senate confirmed new Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett, who was sworn in at the White House last night. POLITICO looks at what it means.

 
 
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