International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications

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International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications (ISAAA) is an international not-for-profit organization that promotes the use of agricultural biotechnology, such as genetically modified organisms (GMOs). ISAAA is, in part, funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development. As of 2000, ISAAA focused its efforts on: Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam, in Southeast Asia; Kenya and its neighboring countries, Egypt and Zimbabwe, in Africa; and Argentina, Brazil, Costa Rica, and Mexico, in Latin America.[1]


ISAAA was founded in 1990 by Clive James, who remains chairman of the board.[2] According to James' biography, ISAAA was established to "facilitate the acquisition and transfer of agricultural biotechnology applications from the industrial countries, for the benefit of resource-poor farmers in the developing world" and ultimately "to alleviate hunger and poverty in the developing countries."[3]

According to a brief on the founding of ISAAA:[4]

The Inception (1990-1992)
"In 1989, the World Bank sponsored a conference in Canberra, Australia, to study the implications of biotechnology on agriculture. The Bank had commissioned Drs. Clive James (then Deputy Director General at CIMMYT) and Gabrielle Persley (then on sabbatical at ISNAR) to undertake a study of the potential future role of the private sector in agriculture in the developing world. Their study concluded that a new institutional mechanism was required to forge public private partnerships that would allow the private sector to share its proprietary science with small-scale and resource-poor farmers.
"A number of donors [The Hitachi Foundation, the MacArthur, McKnight, Mott, Rockefeller, and Wallace Foundations, Monsanto, the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, the Stockholm Environment Institute, and USAID] subsequently funded a feasibility study during late 1990/early 1991 (under the auspices of the now defunct Resources Development Foundation), which considered more deeply the need for such a service and what would be its optimal organizational structure and role. The analysis included a prioritized list of potential projects. Dr. James led the study, with inputs from a host of people, including a Steering Committee that eventually became the founding Board of Directors. [Gordon Goodman (Chairman), Norman Borlaug, Richard Flavell, Robert Fraley, Robert Goodman, Luis Herrera-Estrella, Emil Javier, Thomas Odhiambo, Vernon Ruttan, Francesco Salamini, M.S. Swaminathan, and Jasper Van Zanten]
"ISAAA was incorporated in the USA as a non-profit organization in July 1991. Much preparatory work was done during that year by Clive James (who by then had hired the author of this ISAAA Briefs [Anatole F. Krattiger] as a consultant) to formally launch ISAAA in March 1992. This was done in conjunction with the opening of the AmeriCenter, hosted by Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, USA. Subsequently, the EuroCenter, AfriCenter, SEAsiaCenter, and Liaison Center for the AsiaCenter were established. The original plan had called for three centers in the North (North America, Europe, and Japan), each with two senior directors; and three centers in the South (Africa, Latin America, and Southeast Asia), each with one network coordinator...
"While the institution was being established, a number of projects were developed and implemented in Latin America, most notably the development of virus-resistant potatoes in Mexico with coat-protein technology donated by Monsanto (see ISAAA Briefs No. 7) and the development of diagnostics in maize (see ISAAA Briefs No. 9).
"ISAAA was led from 1992 to early 1994 by Dr. David Altman, by Prof. William Lesser during the remainder of 1994, and by the author of this ISAAA Briefs from 1995 to late 2000."

Genetically Engineered Crop Projects

GE Sweet Potato (Kenya)


GE Potato (Mexico)


GE Papaya (Philippines)

GE Papaya[7]

Cooperation with USAID

"A cooperative agreement from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) - Philippines Mission to ISAAA provides technical assistance to help the Philippines in the following areas:
  • "strengthening the country’s regulatory framework for agricultural biotechnology and accelerating the development and commercial use of a broader range of biotech products. The USAID grant through ISAAA, supports two locally developed biotech crops - papaya ringspot virus resistant (PRSV) papaya and fruit and shoot borer resistant (FSBR) eggplant.
  • "identification of new and potential biotechnology applications for the Philippines in forestry, fisheries, livestock, and industrial/microbial biotech for bio-remediation and biofuels production.
  • "increasing the awareness and level of acceptance of the Filipino public on the use of modern biotechnology.


Donors to ISAAA include:[9]

Patrons include:

Board of Directors

As of 2011:[10]

Contact Information

  • ISAAA SEAsiaCenter
  • Dr. Randy A. Hautea, Center Director and ISAAA Global Coordinator
  • c/o IRRI
  • DAPO Box 7777, Metro Manila
  • The Philippines
  • Ph: +63 2 845-0563/0569/ 0573
  • Fax: +63 49 536-7216; or +63 2 845-0606
  • E-mail:

In the United States:

  • ISAAA AmeriCenter
  • Ms. Patricia Meenen, Administrative Manager
  • 417 Bradfield Hall
  • Cornell University, Ithaca
  • New York 14853, USA
  • Ph: +1 607 255-1724
  • Fax: +1 607 255-1215
  • E-mail:

Articles and Resources

Related SourceWatch Articles


  1. Anatole F. Krattiger, An Overview of ISAAA from 1992 to 2000, ISAAA Briefs No. 19., ISAAA, Ithaca, NY, 2000.
  2. BRIEF BIOGRAPHY FOR Dr. CLIVE JAMES, Accessed October 17, 2011.
  3. BRIEF BIOGRAPHY FOR Dr. CLIVE JAMES, Accessed October 17, 2011.
  4. Anatole F. Krattiger, An Overview of ISAAA from 1992 to 2000, ISAAA Briefs No. 19., ISAAA, Ithaca, NY, 2000.
  5. Matin Qaim, "The Economic Effects of Genetically Modified Orphan Commodities: Projections for Sweetpotato in Kenya," ISAAA Briefs No. 13, ISAAA, Ithaca, NY and ZEF, Bonn, 1999.
  6. Matin Qaim, "Transgenic Virus Resistant Potatoes in Mexico: Potential Socioeconomic Implications of North-South Biotechnology Transfer," ISAAA Briefs No. 7, ISAAA, Ithaca, NY, 1999.
  7. Randy A. Hautea, Chan Ying Kwok, Supat Attathom, and Anatole F. Krattiger, "The Papaya Biotechnology Network of Southeast Asia: Biosafety Considerations and Papaya Background Information," ISAAA Briefs No. 11, ISAAA, Ithaca, NY, 1999.
  8. USAID Support Projects, Accessed October 17, 2011.
  9. Donors, Accessed October 17, 2011.
  10. Structure and Governance, Accessed October 17, 2011.

External Resources

External Articles