Realizing the Promises of Biotechnology in Today’s Food Crops

July 23, 2010  |  2010 Speaker Spotlight, Event  |  Add Comments

Register today for topic #13!  Advances in biotechnology tools and biomarkers, together with years of research in understanding  specific pathways of crop metabolism, provide today’s seed companies with a wish list of traits to improve crop yields and sustainability. Panelists in this session will address the great promise of a new era in biotechnology crops, patenting and licensing challenges for the new technology, and alternative business paradigms for getting innovative seed to market.


Daniel Cosgrove, Vice President of Business Development, DuPont Ag Biotech
Pioneer Hi-Bred International

Daniel J. Cosgrove serves as Vice President of Business Development for the DuPont Ag Biotech business unit. A native of Sioux City, Iowa, Dan received his Bachelor of Science degree in engineering from Iowa State in 1989 and his law degree from Drake University in 1992. Prior to taking a business development role, Dan was the leader of the intellectual property group and corporate counsel at Pioneer. He practiced law at of Zarley, McKee, Thomte, Voorhees & Sease in Des Moines where he was a partner practicing in the area of litigation and licensing.

Edward James Woodhouse, Jr
Assistant General Counsel
BASF Corporation

Edward James Woodhouse, Jr (Jamie) currently assists the general counsel for BASF, supporting agricultural products and plant biotechnology at Research Triangle Park, North Carolina. Prior to his career at BASF, he had a private practice of law in Southwest Virginia (from 1978 – 1989) and an in-house counsel role in Hercules (1989 – 1994). A graduate of Harvard College, he holds a J.D. from the University of Virginia.

Denise Kettelberger, Intellectual Property/Patent
Faegre & Benson LLP

Denise Kettelberger concentrates her practice in intellectual property law with a particular emphasis on biotechnology patents. She focuses on strategic IP counseling and portfolio management for clients in the biotechnology, pharmaceutical, seed, and medical device industries. Her work in this area includes patentability assessment, strategic and coordinated prosecution of worldwide patent applications, including prior art management, analysis of individual inventive contributions, proactive and coordinated PTO examiner interviews, appeals, and strategic reexamination and opposition. Denise’s work also includes analysis of third party patents for infringement, validity, and freedom to operate, participation in analysis of litigation strategies, including potential claim constructions, and has served as an expert witness.

Counterparty Risk Management: Best Practices in Today’s Marketplace

July 19, 2010  |  2010 Speaker Spotlight, Event  |  Add Comments

The conference (July 28) is just around the corner.  Be sure to sign up today to reserve a spot in conference session #17 – Counterparty Risk Management: Best Practices in Today’s Marketplace.

When considering legal issues associated with commercial contracts, including commodity and ag-retail contracts, there is a tendency to focus on the substantive legal terms of the contract. Comparatively, there is often too little focus on the process of contracting. In an area where contracts are largely standardized, such as commodity or ag-retail contracts, it is often a breakdown in the process of contracting that leads to a dispute, not the failure of a substantive term. This presentation focuses on the use of process-based mechanisms to properly assess and mitigate counterparty risk.

The panelists for this presentation are:

  • Charles Delacruz, Counsel of Public Affairs, National Grain and Feed Association
  • David Downey, Executive Director, Center for Food and Agricultural Business, Purdue University
  • Mike Holden, Faegre & Benson LLP
  • Moderator: Jacob Bylund, Faegre & Benson LLP

Biotech Crops: Contamination Liability and Challenges to the Regulatory Structure

June 18, 2010  |  2010 Speaker Spotlight, Event  |  Add Comments

Register today to attend conference topic #6: Biotech Crops: Contamination Liability and Challenges to the Regulatory Structure.

 Recent litigation concerning genetically engineered crops could result in a tighter regulatory approval process for all biotech crops. It could also increase common law liability potential for biotech crops that have passed the U.S. federal approval hurdle. This session will look at Liberty Link Rice multi-district litigation, the U.S. Supreme Court’s review of the Roundup Ready alfalfa in the Geertson case, and the federal court for the Northern District of California’s handling of the Roundup Ready sugar beet case. It will then examine how this litigation could lead to expansion of federal regulation and increased state liability risks—at both the pre-market approval and post-sale stages—that could limit advances in agricultural biotechnology.

Panelists for this session: 

Steve Berreth, Head Legal, Intellectual Property and Licensing NAFTA
Syngenta Seeds, Inc. 

Steve is head of legal, intellectual property and licensing for Syngenta Seeds, Inc., a subsidiary of Syngenta AG. In addition to managing the day-to-day operations of a large legal department, Steve concentrates on handling litigations, disputes and large transactional matters for Syngenta. Syngenta is a global leader in the development and sales of crop protection and seeds products. Syngenta is also one of the pioneers in the development of transgenic crops, primarily in the corn and soybean area, and has been involved in several of the litigations and licensing deals that helped shape the seeds biotech industry. Prior to joining Syngenta, Steve was general counsel of The Coleman Company and Chief IP Counsel and President of Licensing for Sunbeam Corporation. 

Alison Peck, Associate Professor
West Virginia University College of Law 

Alison Peck, associate professor at West Virginia University College of Law, focuses her research, writing and teaching in the areas of natural resources law, agricultural law and sustainable development. Previously, Professor Peck practiced commercial litigation and international arbitration with the law firm of Boies, Schiller & Flexner in Washington, D.C. She received a J.D. from Yale Law School and an LL.M. in Agricultural Law from the University of Arkansas. She is a member of the Indiana and District of Columbia bars. 


Sharon Bomer Lauritsen, Executive Vice President, Food and Agriculture Section
Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) 

Sharon Bomer Lauritsen is executive vice president of the Food and Agriculture Section at the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) and leads the organization’s public policy activities on agricultural biotechnology issues domestically and internationally. She also serves as the executive director for the Council for Biotechnology Information, which communicates science-based information about the benefits and safety of agricultural biotechnology. Prior to joining BIO, Sharon served as deputy assistant U.S. Trade Representative for Agricultural Affairs, Executive Office of the President, where she was responsible for U.S. government negotiations on a wide range of food and agriculture trade issues.

John Mandler, Agribusiness Litigation
Faegre & Benson LLP

John Mandler, a partner with Faegre & Benson, is the leader of the firm’s agribusiness litigation practice and a member of the firm’s food, agriculture and biofuels industry group. An experienced trial lawyer, John has tried numerous cases involving agricultural issues. John also counsels the firm’s crop protection chemical and seed company clients on a variety of issues such as genetically engineered crops, federal and state law and regulatory issues and product liability prevention. John is a Fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers.

Kathleen Smith Ruhland to Serve as World Law Group Regional Director

June 17, 2010  |  2010 Speaker Spotlight  |  Add Comments

Conference speaker Kathleen Smith Ruhland has been elected to the board of directors of the World Law Group for a two-year term. 

The World Law Group is a global alliance of 49 leading independent law firms with more than 10,500 lawyers in offices in over 260 major business centers around the world. In her role as director, Ruhland will have responsibility for member law firms in the Americas Region.

Ruhland serves as co-chair of the Faegre & Benson international practice. She advises clients on cross-border transactions, including international M&A, restructuring and joint ventures, in established and emerging markets throughout the world.

Through membership in the World Law Group, Faegre & Benson assists clients with legal needs worldwide through collaboration with top law firms in a variety of countries.

The Availability of Credit In the Agribusiness Market

June 9, 2010  |  2010 Speaker Spotlight, Event  |  Add Comments

Conference Topic #22:  Current Trends and Challenges In the Credit Markets  

The availability of credit in the agribusiness market and the pressures on financial institutions have changed dramatically over the last few years. Register for the conference and select topic #22 if you’d like to attend a discussion on this topic, led by a panel of agricultural lenders and experts.  


Greg Cannon, Senior Vice President, U.S. Bank
Edward Cooper, Senior Vice President, Wells Fargo 
Brian Klatt, Senior Vice President, CoBank
Moderator: Buzz Shepard, Faegre & Benson LLP 


Speaker Spotlight: Animal Welfare

The July 28th conference has more than 20 food, agriculture, and biofuels topics in store for industry leaders.  Today’s focus is on topic #10: Animal Welfare: Where Is the Battle Headed? 

Animal welfare is defined as the ethical responsibility of ensuring animal well-being: the condition in which animals experience good health and are able to effectively cope with their environment. Regulation of animal welfare—ncluding proper housing, management, nutrition, disease prevention and treatment, responsible care, humane handling, and, when necessary, humane euthanasia—is increasing at both the state and federal levels. This presentation will provide an update on legal and business developments associated with animal welfare, an increasingly hot-button topic for regulators, the media, and consumers.

Check out the panelists:

Sherrie Niekamp
Director, Swine Welfare
National Pork Board

Sherrie Niekamp is the Director of Animal Welfare for the National Pork Board. Her responsibilities include serving as a resource in the development of educational materials on animal care including programs such as the Pork Quality Assurance Plus program (PQA Plus) and the Transport Quality Assurance Program (TQA). Sherrie also has oversight of the administration of swine welfare research funded by America’s pork producers. Sherrie also works with veterinarians, producers and other segments of the pork chain to identify welfare issues concerning the swine industry and work collaboratively to provide solutions to these issues. Prior to her position with Pork Checkoff in 2005, Sherrie received her Master of Science in Animal Science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Janice Swanson
Director of Animal Welfare
Michigan State University

Dr. Janice Swanson received her PhD in Applied Animal Ethology from the University of Maryland and her masters and baccalaureate degrees in animal science from the University of Connecticut. In April of 1992, Dr. Swanson joined the faculty in the Department of Animal Sciences and Industry at Kansas State University. Dr. Swanson was a member of the graduate faculty and the director of the department’s international program until appointed to the position as interim department head. In July 2007, Dr. Swanson assumed the responsibility of the Director of Animal Welfare at Michigan State University. In addition to her academic responsibilities, Dr. Swanson provides scientific service on numerous national animal welfare advisory committees and councils.

Win Rockwell
Agribusiness Litigation
Faegre & Benson LLP

Win Rockwell is a partner in Faegre & Benson’s agribusiness litigation practice. A lawyer for more than 30 years, he has had great success in representing international agribusiness clients in the areas of product liability and commercial contract litigation. Win manages the firm’s representation of many of its top clients, working across practice groups and through the firm’s offices in Europe, Asia and the United States. He is currently a member of Faegre & Benson’s management committee and is active in the firm’s alternative fee development, diversity, and pro bono efforts.

Keith Stimpert, Senior Vice President of Public Policy at the Ohio Farm Bureau, is speaking, as well.  Watch Keith make his opening statement at the Ohio Town Hall Forum.

When Labels Fail: The FDA and Food Labeling Claims

June 4, 2010  |  2010 Speaker Spotlight  |   |  Add Comments

The Obama administration has been putting pressure on the FDA to enforce existing laws on food labeling. Kristin Eads, Steve Toeniskoetter, and Jennifer Zwagerman authored an article for Food and Drink Magazine about what this means for food producers and consumers. Read more

Conference Speaker Spotlight: Sean Solberg

May 25, 2010  |  2010 Speaker Spotlight  |  ,  |  Add Comments

Today’s post author, Sean Solberg, is a patent attorney at Faegre & Benson and specializes in biotech, medical device, and agricultural technologies.  In addition to Fortune 500 companies, he does a considerable amount of work for university and emerging company clients. 

During the upcoming Food, Ag & Biofuels conference in July, I’ll be moderating a panel entitled “Technology Transfer – Behind the Scenes Stories from the Front Lines” – it’s going to be a fascinating discussion with panelists from both the university side and the industry side.

 It will be interesting to guide the discussion amongst these tech transfer veterans and hear the perspectives from both sides of the equation, and it will also be a challenge, because I haven’t moderated many discussion panels.  Almost all of my speaking opportunities to date have focused on a substantive discussion of some facet of patent law.  In the past few years, I have spoken at a lot of conferences, served as an adjunct professor at the University of St. Thomas, and  twice served as the emcee of an annual lifesciences conference (the Regional Biosciences Conference in Worthington – a wonderful event that always has an impressive schedule of speakers). 

In contrast, this will be my first opportunity to simply guide a conversation amongst other experts – it should be an interesting endeavor, and I’m really looking forward to the discussion.

 On Sean’s Bookshelf…

My colleague, Victor Jonas, and I recently gave an “Introduction to Intellectual Property” presentation to the Gary S. Holmes Center of Entrepreneurship at the University of Minnesota.  John Stavig is the Director at the Center – he asked us to give this presentation to a group of graduate and Ph.D. students as part of the 3M Series. 

As a gift, John gave both of us a copy of a book entitled “Bootstrap to Billions” – it’s a series of short summaries of Minnesota entrepreneurs written by Dileep Rao.  A wide variety of entrepreneurs are highlighted in this book – everyone from Richard Schulze, the founder of Best Buy, to Earl Bakken, who started Medtronic.  Each summary is essentially a case study of the entrepreneur’s success. 

 The case studies are interesting.  Each one starts with the background of the entrepreneur, including the entrepreneur’s childhood, describes the beginnings of the entrepreneur’s business, and walks through the various stages of the company as it grows from a startup to a successful company having sales or valuation exceeding $100 million. 

 The author tells the story in the form of numbered sections that include a simple lesson at the end of each section.  While the analysis of each case study and the resulting “lessons” are fairly simplistic, the book has been an interesting read so far and provides some insights into the reasons for each entrepreneur’s success.  Plus, the fact that each company is based in Minnesota makes the stories even more interesting. 

I’m always looking for new ways to serve the needs of my emerging company and serial entrepreneur clients, and this book provides some useful information about how those companies and clients achieve success.

Announcing an Academic Collaboration

May 12, 2010  |  2010 Speaker Spotlight  |  Add Comments

Faegre & Benson’s Zwagerman Chosen as Visiting Scholar with Drake University’s Ag Law Center

 Drake University and Faegre & Benson are pleased to announce the firm is launching a Visiting Scholar Program in collaboration with Drake University’s Agricultural Law Center. Faegre & Benson Attorney Jennifer Williams Zwagerman, a graduate of Drake University Law School, has been chosen as the first Visiting Scholar.

“We are confident that this new part of our long-standing, productive relationship with Faegre & Benson will be extraordinarily valuable for both the law school and the firm,” says Drake Law School Dean Allan Vestal. “Given the leadership of both parties in the fields of food, agriculture and sustainable energy, the combination is a natural one.” Dean Vestal concludes, “We are delighted that Jennifer will be the initial Faegre & Benson Visiting Scholar and look forward to welcoming her back to Drake in this new role.”

Read more here.

What Are the Implications of the Calorie Display Legislation?

A provision of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act requires restaurants with 20 or more locations to post calorie counts for their products on menus. Jennifer Williams Zwagerman and Kevin Hein discuss what this provision means for restaurants and consumers with the Des Moines Business Record.  Questions answered include when the law goes into effect, who is affected,  what it requires, and how it will be enforced.

Looking for more reading on the subject? We’ve found some links for you:

Join the conversation! If interested in the topic, feel free to contact Zwagerman and Hein with any questions — or search them out at the July 28, 2010 conference.