07/21/2011 04:58 pm ET | Updated Sep 20, 2011

Agricultural Innovation to Feed the World

Recently, China purchased unexpected quantities of corn, boosting corn prices in the United States. This is not only good for American farmers. Those purchases, and growing global demand for the food we grow, can also provide the fragile U.S. economy a lifeline.

Indeed, that same week featured disappointing June figures on domestic job creation. In this economy, we're fortunate to have a strong industry based on relentless innovation that acts as an export machine for U.S. producers.

From the Green Revolution of the 1960's to today's GPS-based planting, from better environmental practices to new forms of seed -- agriculture is innovation. With the global population predicted to reach 9 billion by 2050, farmers worldwide will continue to face an even greater challenge to feed their families and their communities. Companies like mine, Pioneer Hi-Bred, a DuPont business, will play a critical role as will American farmers, on whom the future of agriculture is built.

If we're successful, the result will be more food, better farming and more stable societies globally. But creating sustainable solutions requires four key components:

A talented workforce
Scientists, agronomists, technical, health and IT professionals who aspire to make meaningful contributions should look to agriculture. Equipping the next generation with the education and skills necessary to meet the growing global demand for advanced products and services that address agriculture challenges will ensure we sustain the momentum we depend on today.

Science-based research and development
From Illinois to India, seeds with increased yield potential are planted daily. Food crops on the horizon will provide enhanced nutrition and thrive in the most challenging climates, but improvements isolated to science and technology aren't enough.

Research and development empowers farmers by encouraging adoption of agronomic advancements and providing information and education for sustained improvement. In the 1940's, U.S. farmers began experiencing the benefits of hybrid corn, an adoption that led to dramatic yield increases and an upward trend line that continues largely due to ongoing technological advances. Pioneer is positioned to deliver a steady stream of compelling and innovative products specifically designed, with local implementation in mind, to optimize productivity and value.

Focused collaboration
Innovation depends on collaboration -- the ability to harness our collective imagination, capabilities and resources. To put it simply -- we need farmers, global public and private institutions, NGOs and the entire food industry working together to identify nutritional and environmental advancements necessary to feed a booming population. Pioneer currently has more than 110 research centers in 24 countries around the world, and expansions continue. By providing agronomic experience, advanced inputs and technology, and support of research and knowledge, we can work together to support the 450 million farmers who need our help today -- and who will comprise the marketplace of tomorrow.

Supportive policy and regulatory frameworks
Open and competitive markets, intellectual property rights, and science-based regulatory systems foster innovation. Open, competitive markets mean science can reach consumers with new innovations, and greater protection of legitimate intellectual property would lead to enhanced investment, new technology, and greater productivity. Governments, both here and abroad, must continue to enhance the regulatory framework to allow for even more efficient approval processes to deliver vital benefits to farmers and consumers.

American agriculture is about today and tomorrow. Agricultural innovation supports broader economic and job growth, is fundamental to maintaining our competitive advantage, and allows us to provide the tools necessary to optimally use each acre in production. Through our collective efforts, innovation can truly make a difference in everyone's lives.