Seed-patent case in Supreme Court: Loss of patent control could rekindle ‘terminator’ technology.

Heidi Ledford

A technology called a ‘terminator’ was never going to curry much favour with the public. But even Monsanto, the agricultural biotechnology giant in St Louis, Missouri, was surprised by the furore that followed when it patented a method for engineering transgenic crops to produce sterile seed, forcing farmers to buy new seed for each planting. In 1999, Monsanto’s chief executive pledged not to commercialize terminator seeds.

The concept, if not the technology, is now gaining traction again. This week, the US Supreme Court hears arguments that pit Monsanto against 75-year-old Indiana soya-bean farmer Vernon Hugh Bowman, who used the progeny of Monsanto seeds to sow his land for eight seasons. The company says that by not buying seeds for each generation, Bowman violated its patents. If Bowman wins — and observers say that is not out of the question — the decision could make it harder for biotech firms to enforce patents on engineered organisms, from seeds to microbes, prompting them to revisit terminator-like technology.

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More than just a pretty flower

MIT chemists engineer the periwinkle plant to produce compounds that could become more-effective cancer drugs.
Anne Trafton, MIT News Office
November 4, 2010
Humans have long taken advantage of the huge variety of medicinal compounds produced by plants. Now MIT chemists have found a new way to expand plants’ pharmaceutical repertoire by genetically engineering them to produce unnatural variants of their usual products. 

The researchers, led by Associate Professor Sarah O’Connor, have added bacterial genes to the periwinkle plant, enabling it to attach halogens such as chlorine or bromine to a class of compounds called alkaloids that the plant normally produces. Many alkaloids have pharmaceutical properties, and halogens, which are often added to antibiotics and other drugs, can make medicines more effective or last longer in the body. 

The team’s primary target, an alkaloid called vinblastine, is commonly used to treat cancers such as Hodgkin’s lymphoma. O’Connor sees vinblastine and other drugs made by plants as scaffolds that she can modify in a variety of ways to enhance their effectiveness. 

“We’re trying to use plant biosynthetic mechanisms to easily make a whole range of different iterations of natural products,” she said. “If you tweak the structure of natural products, very often you get different or improved biological and pharmacological activity.”

O’Connor, graduate student Weerawat Runguphan and former postdoctoral associate Xudong Qu describe their engineered periwinkle plants in the Nov. 3 online edition of Nature. The research was funded by the National Institutes of Health and the American Cancer Society.
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Cloned beef causing uproar in Britain traced to Wisconsin cow

Oxford dairy farmer harvested DNA from champion Holstein in 2000

By Karen Herzog of the Journal Sentinel Aug. 14, 2010

Mark Rueth's Holstein cow Paradise had just been crowned supreme champion of the World Dairy Expo in Madison in 2000 when a biotechnology company salesman approached him ringside and offered a cut-rate deal to clone Paradise so she could "live forever," and make his farm more profitable.

The Oxford dairy farmer and cattle breeder agreed, and the salesman immediately pricked the prize cow's ear to harvest DNA.

The world of cloning hasn't exactly been paradise for Rueth in the decade since, and especially during the past two weeks. Recent headlines in the British press screamed that two male offspring of a Paradise clone were slaughtered for beef that entered the food chain. Milk from a daughter of a Paradise clone also was traced to the British food supply, setting off consumer fears about food safety.

"The English people get in an uproar about stuff," Rueth said last week, noting that a British reporter and photographer showed up unannounced at his farm. "It's not like you're manipulating or changing the DNA. Half of the DNA from the clone's offspring is from the father."

In the U.S., the Food and Drug Administration doesn't regulate milk or meat from offspring of cloned animals, and doesn't require labeling. Two years after the agency concluded those food products were safe, they're in the American food supply.

However, the U.S. Department of Agriculture requests that the industry continue a voluntary moratorium on placing products from original clones in the food supply to allow trade partners in other countries to pursue their own regulations.

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Diverse biotech industry pumps millions into state, national economies

By Pete Bach
Gannett Wisconsin Media

BROTHERTOWN — The corn crop sprouting on Bill Hansen's 150-acre farm in Calumet County has a secret: It's fortified with special traits at the microscopic level.

Such genetic alterations begin with the corn seed, which allows it to grow into a plant resistant to rootworms and insects, disease and drought, as well as the popular herbicide Roundup.

It's important because encroaching weeds compete for the same moisture as crops; killing them without collateral damage to the corn makes for a more productive field with noticeably taller stalks, Hansen said.

Genetically altered crops have become the norm. Eighty percent to 90 percent of all soybeans planted in Wisconsin possess what the agricultural community refers to as biotech yield traits, said Kevin Jarek, crops, soils and horticulture agent for the University of Wisconsin-Extension in Outagamie County.

That's also true for 40 percent of the corn grown in the state.

"When you look at crops that have been grown with biotech improvements in the state, it's grown exponentially from where it was five or 10 years ago," Jarek said.

But Wisconsin's blooming biotech industry doesn't just protect corn. It helps protect the state's economic interests too.

The industry in Wisconsin, home to more than 400 biotech companies employing 34,000 people, is among the nation's largest.

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Supreme Court: Farmers can't use seed from patented crops

The company has sued more than 100 farmers for using seed from previous year's crops.

By CHRISTOPHER S. RUGABER
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

WASHINGTON - The Supreme Court on Monday let stand, without comment, a lower court ruling that punished a Mississippi farmer for re-using Monsanto Co.’s patented, genetically modified soybeans.

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Emotions, science collide in cloning

Some say it's breeding tool; others fear harm to food

By BILL GLAUBER
bglauber@journalsentinel.com
Posted: April 15, 2007

Barron - Bob Schauf knows cows. He breeds them and shows them, washes, clips and primps them like models poised to strut down a Paris runway.

Yet in all his years, Schauf never saw a cow quite like Blackrose, a gentle giant, a prize-winning Holstein who was "tall, strong, upstanding and beautifully shaped."

"She's one of those once-in-a-lifetime cows," Schauf says.

Make that twice in a lifetime.

Blackrose died in 2001. But her clones live on.

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U.S. bans farmers from planting GMO-tainted rice

Fri Mar 9, 11:54 PM ET

The U.S. Department of Agriculture on Friday banned farmers from planting a variety of rice containing genetically modified material that has not been approved by the government, and it told growers to destroy any plantings of the seed.

"Testing...has confirmed the presence of trace levels of genetic material not yet approved for commercialization in Clearfield 131 (CL131) rice seed," USDA said, adding, "This seed is not an option for planting this crop season."

Government tests confirmed results received from private testing announced on Monday, which prompted USDA to order seed dealers to stop selling the long-grain rice seed.

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USDA Backs Production of Rice With Human Genes

By Rick Weiss
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, March 2, 2007; A02

The Agriculture Department has given a preliminary green light for the first commercial production of a food crop engineered to contain human genes, reigniting fears that biomedically potent substances in high-tech plants could escape and turn up in other foods.

The plan, confirmed yesterday by the California biotechnology company leading the effort, calls for large-scale cultivation in Kansas of rice that produces human immune system proteins in its seeds.

The proteins are to be extracted for use as an anti-diarrhea medicine and might be added to health foods such as yogurt and granola bars.

"We can really help children with diarrhea get better faster. That is the idea," said Scott E. Deeter, president and chief executive of Sacramento-based Ventria Bioscience, emphasizing that a host of protections should keep the engineered plants and their seeds from escaping into surrounding fields.

But critics are assailing the effort, saying gene-altered plants inevitably migrate out of their home plots. In this case, they said, that could result in pharmacologically active proteins showing up in the food of unsuspecting consumers.

Although the proteins are not inherently dangerous, there would be little control over the doses people might get exposed to, and some might be allergic to the proteins, said Jane Rissler of the Union of Concerned Scientists, a science policy advocacy group.

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Dean says no to cloned cow milk

By Libby Quaid
Associated Press

WASHINGTON - Milk from cloned cows is no longer welcome at the nation's biggest milk company.

Although the government has approved meat and milk from cloned animals while it conducts further studies, Dean Foods Co. of Dallas said Thursday that its customers and consumers don't want milk from cloned animals. The $10 billion company owns Land O'Lakes and Horizon Organic, among dozens of other brands.

"Numerous surveys have shown that Americans are not interested in buying dairy products that contain milk from cloned cows and Dean Foods is responding to the needs of our consumers," the company said in a statement.

Federal scientists say there is virtually no difference between clones and conventional cows, pigs or goats. The Food and Drug Administration gave preliminary approval to meat and milk from cloned animals and could grant final approval by year's end.

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FDA May Clear Cloned Food, But Public Has Little Appetite

Despite Safety Data, Americans Largely Find Idea Unappealing

By Rick Weiss
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, December 25, 2006; Page A16

Consumer advocates and others have complained bitterly in recent years that the Food and Drug Administration has veered from its scientific roots, making decisions on controversial matters -- such as the emergency contraceptive "Plan B" -- on political rather than scientific grounds.

Now comes a test of just how rational the public wants the FDA to be.

Later this week, the agency is expected to release a formal recommendation that milk and meat from cloned animals should be allowed on grocery store shelves. The long-awaited decision comes as polling data to be released this week show that the public continues to have little appetite for such food, with many people saying the FDA should keep it off the market.

The FDA decision is based on a substantial cache of data from rigorous studies, all of which have concluded that milk and meat from cloned animals is virtually identical to such products from conventional animals. Scientists have also been unable to detect health problems in laboratory animals raised on clonal food.

By contrast, studies have found that consumers' discomfort with the idea of eating food from clones is largely based on vague emotions. Indeed, polls have repeatedly found that the public understands little about what cloning really is.

That raises the issue: Should decisions such as this one be based solely on science, or should officials take into account public sensitivities, which may be unscientific but are undeniably real?

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Scientists get OK for engineered peanuts

By ELLIOTT MINOR, Associated Press Writer
Tue Dec 26, 7:40 PM ET

ALBANY, Ga. - A leading industry group has given scientists the go-ahead to build genetically engineered peanuts that could be safer, more nutritious and easier to grow than their conventional version.

The work could lead to peanuts that yield more oil for biofuel production, need less rainfall and grow more efficiently, with built-in herbicide and pest resistance — traits that have already been engineered into major crops such as cotton, corn, soybeans and canola.

For consumers, the work could lead to peanuts with enhanced flavor, more vitamins and nutrients, and possibly even nuts that are less likely to trigger allergic reactions, a life-threatening problem for a small percentage of the population and a major food industry concern.

A few researchers have been genetically modifying peanuts for at least a decade, but their discoveries have had little impact because the industry, fearing a consumer backlash, was reluctant to support the work.

However, with the two leading peanut-producing countries, China and India, working aggressively on transgenic peanuts, the American Peanut Council and its research arm, the Peanut Foundation, this month approved a major policy change. The council represents all segments of the industry — growers, shellers, exporters and manufacturers.

The foundation urged scientists to move ahead with "due diligence" on genetically engineered peanuts.

The work is expected to cost about $9.5 million and will require university, government and industry support.

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U.S. Uneasy About Biotech Food

U.S. Uneasy About Biotech Food
Americans Lack Knowledge, Faith in FDA's Accuracy, Poll Finds

By Rick Weiss
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, December 7, 2006; Page A16

Ten years after genetically engineered crops were first planted commercially in the United States, Americans remain ill-informed about and uncomfortable with biotech food, according to the fifth annual survey on the topic, released yesterday.

People vastly underestimate how much gene-altered food they are already consuming, lean toward wanting greater regulation of such crops and have less faith than ever that the Food and Drug Administration will provide accurate information, the survey found.

The poll also confirmed that most Americans, particularly women, do not like the idea of consuming meat or milk from cloned animals -- a view that stands in contrast to scientific evidence that cloned food is safe. The FDA recently said it is close to allowing such food on the market.

Michael Fernandez, executive director of the Pew Initiative on Food and Biotechnology, which sponsored the survey, said that overall, Americans are "still generally uncertain" about genetically modified and cloned foods. "How the next generation of biotech products is introduced -- and consumers' trust in the regulation of GM foods -- will be critical in shaping U.S. attitudes in the long term."

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Dow Chemical wins patent for insect-resistant crops

Dow Chemical wins patent for insect-resistant crops

Midland, Mich. (Bloomberg) -- Dow Chemical Co., the largest U.S. chemical maker, won a U.S. patent for insect- resistant plants and said it plans to seek licensing agreements from rivals selling products that use the same technology.

The U.S. Patent Office granted "broad and exclusive" patent rights for plants containing genes from the bacteria Bt, or Bacillus thuringiensis, Dow said Tuesday in a statement. Dow AgroSciences sells Bt-modified corn co-developed with DuPont Co.'s Pioneer unit under the Herculex brand and Bt-engineered cotton under the WideStrike name.

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Crop king Monsanto seeks pig-breeding patent clout

Crop king Monsanto seeks pig-breeding patent clout

By Carey Gillam
Reuters
Thursday, August 11, 2005; 8:07 AM

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (Reuters) - Monsanto Co., already a world powerhouse in biotech crops, is shaking up the swine industry with plans to patent pig-breeding techniques and lay claim to the animals born as a result.

Agricultural experts are scrambling to assess how these patents might affect the market, while consumer activists warn that if the company is granted pig-related patents, on top of its tight rein on key feed and food crops, its control over agriculture could be unprecedented.

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Farmers use more biotech crops

Farmers use more biotech crops
00:00 am 7/07/05
Jason Stein Wisconsin State Journal

The furrows of Wisconsin farm fields are seeing a rise in genetically modified crops, a recently released federal survey reported.

This year's increase continues a steady, upward trend that has brought the amount of biotech corn and soybeans planted in the state to more than 3 million acres, new figures from the U.S. Department of Agriculture show.

About a decade after the controversial crops debuted in this country, a UW-Madison professor said Wednesday he plans to examine years of data to see whether the new technologies have improved farmers' bottom line.

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Insects develop resistance to engineered crops

Insects develop resistance to engineered crops when single- and double-gene altered plants are in proximity, Cornell researchers say

By Krishna Ramanujan

ITHACA, N.Y. -- Genetically modified crops containing two insecticidal proteins in a single plant efficiently kill insects. But when crops engineered with just one of those toxins grow nearby, insects may more rapidly develop resistance to all the insect-killing plants, report Cornell University researchers.

A soil bacterium called Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt), whose genes are inserted into crop plants, such as maize and cotton, creates these toxins that are deadly to insects but harmless to humans.

Bt crops were first commercialized in 1996, and scientists, critics and others have been concerned that widespread use of Bt crops would create conditions for insects to evolve and develop resistance to the toxins.

Until now, it has not been shown if neighboring plants producing a single Bt toxic protein might play a role in insect resistance to transgenic crops expressing two insecticidal proteins.

"Our findings suggest that concurrent use of single- and dual-gene Bt plants can put the dual-gene plants at risk if single-gene plants are deployed in the same area simultaneously," said Anthony Shelton, professor of entomology at Cornell's College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and an author of the study, which was posted online June 6 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) and is in the June 14 print edition of the journal. "Single-gene plants really function as a steppingstone in resistance of two-gene plants if the single gene plants contain one of the same Bt proteins as in the two-gene plant."

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A real plum for Wisconsin growers

A real plum for Wisconsin growers
Professor's quest could yield a sweet new crop for Midwest agriculture
By KATHLEEN GALLAGHER
kgallagher@journalsentinel.com
Posted: May 21, 2005

After 14 years of pruning branches, grafting stem pieces to root stock and tweezing stamens and petals off plants so they don't self-pollinate, a University of Wisconsin-River Falls horticulture professor has developed a plum that could create a whole new crop for Midwestern commercial growers.

Brian R. Smith's Lydecker plum won't be available in nurseries for at least three years. But the fruit-bearing tree he patiently bred from a cherry plum mom and a Japanese dessert plum dad has all the qualities that Smith and others believe will help Midwestern commercial growers produce a fruit that hasn't been grown here before.

The Lydecker plum tree is highly productive and short-statured, has good winter hardiness and a fruit that ripens earlier, and produces completely round, purple to black plums.

"It's very juicy, a really succulent plum that's tasty and large - and it's a relatively modest plant with pretty good production on it. It looks like a winner," said Rodney J. Nilsestuen, Wisconsin's secretary of the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection.

"There's no reason we shouldn't be able to grow the Lydecker throughout the Midwest," said Smith, who is growing his new plum in River Falls, east of Minneapolis-St. Paul.

Wisconsin has no commercial plum industry at present, but some see the Lydecker as a potential way to compensate for injuries California has inflicted on other state endeavors.

"This is our revenge. California has been taking our cheese and milk, and now we're going to take their plum industry," said Maliyakal E. John, general manager of WiSys, the licensing and patenting arm of the UW System.

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GM industry puts human gene into rice

GM industry puts human gene into rice
By Geoffrey Lean, Environment Editor
24 April 2005

Scientists have begun putting genes from human beings into food crops in a dramatic extension of genetic modification. The move, which is causing disgust and revulsion among critics, is bound to strengthen accusations that GM technology is creating "Frankenstein foods" and drive the controversy surrounding it to new heights.

Even before this development, many people, including Prince Charles, have opposed the technology on the grounds that it is playing God by creating unnatural combinations of living things.

Environmentalists say that no one will want to eat the partially human-derived food because it will smack of cannibalism.

But supporters say that the controversial new departure presents no ethical problems and could bring environmental benefits.

In the first modification of its kind, Japanese researchers have inserted a gene from the human liver into rice to enable it to digest pesticides and industrial chemicals. The gene makes an enzyme, code-named CPY2B6, which is particularly good at breaking down harmful chemicals in the body.


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Monsanto Holds Right to Patent Some Seeds

Monsanto Holds Right to Patent Some Seeds

By Associated Press
FRANKFURT, Germany — The European Patent Office ruled Friday that U.S. agribusiness giant Monsanto Co. has the right to patent herbicide-resistant seeds in Europe.

"The patent has, in principle, been confirmed with only a minor technical limitation," said agency spokesman Rainer Osterwalder. "Our patent judges have decided that the Monsanto patent doesn't violate European patent law."

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Syngenta Says It Sold Wrong Biotech Corn

Syngenta Says It Sold Wrong Biotech Corn

By Michael S. Rosenwald
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, March 23, 2005; Page E01

Swiss biotech firm Syngenta AG said yesterday that over a four-year period it inadvertently sold U.S. farmers an unapproved strain of genetically modified corn seed that may have also entered the food supply and international export channels.

Syngenta, as well as three federal regulatory agencies investigating the sales, cautioned that the mistake posed no health risks because the unapproved strain is virtually identical, genetically, to an approved strain of corn seed that the company markets.

The firm said the amount of unapproved corn planted from 2001 until it discovered and reported the mistake to regulators last December was "very little," amounting to 37,000 acres out of the 320 million acres planted during that period across the United States.

Despite the small amount of corn involved, as well as the lack of public health risk, industry observers said Syngenta's problems would likely stoke long-simmering concerns over the biotech industry's ability to control the technology.

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Companies help researchers find corn's genetic code

Companies help researchers find corn's genetic code
00:00 am 3/19/05
Jim Suhr AP business writer

ST. LOUIS - A trade group overseeing an effort to unlock corn's genetic code says more than 120 researchers have already used a Web database created to speed up development of biotech crops.

The National Corn Growers Association said this week that the researchers, representing 35 academic institutions, accessed maize gene sequences cataloged in the database.

"There are only little pieces of gene sequences available in the public domain," said Jo Messing, a professor of molecular biology at Rutgers University, who has used the database. "The private collection offers a lot of those missing pieces."

The 8-month-old Web site pools research done on the corn genome by Monsanto Co., DuPont subsidiary Pioneer Hi- Bred International and Monsanto research partner Ceres.

By offering their data to researchers at nonprofit institutions for noncommercial use, the companies hope to develop hybrid and genetically modified plants that are more drought-resistant or can produce more nutritious corn or fibers.

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Vermont Lawmakers again turn their attention to GMOs

Lawmakers again turn their attention to GMOs

February 10, 2005

By Luis Porter Vermont Press Bureau

MONTPELIER — The Legislature is again taking up the regulation of genetically modified crops, one of the most controversial issues debated during last year's lawmaking session.

Both the Senate and the House heard testimony on the issue during the past week.

The current bill is designed to hold manufacturers — rather than farmers — liable for the accidental spread of genetically engineered crops. Vermont could be the first state to pass such legislation, although Montana lawmakers are also considering such a measure.

Advocates worry that farmers who have a contract to produce non-GMO produce have no recourse but to sue their neighbors if their crops are cross-pollinated with GMO plants gown in nearby fields.

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Researchers release open-source GM technology

Researchers release open-source GM technology
An Australian research institute has announced the discovery of more effective ways to genetically modify plants.

The technology will be made widely available to try to break the stranglehold of multinational agricultural companies.

The ACT's head of the Centre of the Application of Molecular Biology to International Agriculture (CAMBIA), Richard Jefferson, says any one of hundreds of patent holders can now stop an innovation like a drought resistant grain, getting to farmers.

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Monsanto, Bayer CropScience End Dispute

Monsanto, Bayer CropScience End Dispute
Monsanto Resolves Patent Dispute With Bayer CropScience, German Non-Profit Research Organization
By JIM SALTER
The Associated Press
Feb. 4, 2005 - Agribusiness giant Monsanto Co. has resolved a patent dispute with Bayer CropScience and a German non-profit research organization, and those involved will cross-license some technologies worldwide, the companies said Friday.

The announcement ends a long-standing rift over agrobacterium technology, a process that allows scientists to transfer DNA to plant cells. Financial terms of the settlement were not disclosed.

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Brazil: BioAg Law

Brazil Gets Its Transgenic Law
Written by Irene Lôbo
Friday, 14 January 2005

Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, on January 12, sanctioned the Provisional Measure that determines norms for the cultivation and sale of genetically modified soybeans.

The law, which was published yesterday, January 13, in the Federal Register (Diário Oficial), requires producers to sign a declaration of commitment, responsibility, and adjustment of behavior by January 31, 2005.

In accordance with the law, producers who fail to sign the declaration will be prevented from obtaining loans and other forms of financial assistance from institutions that belong to the National System of Rural Credit, as well as being denied access to eventual fiscal benefits.

The law also requires companies that produce seeds to present receipts in order to be able to charge royalties (patent use rights) from producers for the development of technology.

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Single-Season Seeds

Enforcing Single-Season Seeds, Monsanto Sues Farmers
By Paul Elias January 14, 2005

AP Biotechnology Writer
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) _ Monsanto Co.'s "seed police" snared soy farmer Homan McFarling in 1999, and the company is demanding he pay it hundreds of thousands of dollars for alleged technology piracy.

McFarling's sin? He saved seed from one harvest and replanted it the following season, a revered and ancient agricultural practice.

"My daddy saved seed. I saved seed," said McFarling, 62, who still grows soy on the 5,000 acre family farm in Shannon, Miss. and is fighting the agribusiness giant in court.

Saving Monsanto's seeds, genetically engineered to kill bugs and resist weed sprays, violates provisions of the company's contracts with farmers.

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FDA to Issue Guidelines On Evaluating Biotech Food

FDA to Issue Guidelines On Evaluating Biotech Food

By Michael S. Rosenwald
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, November 24, 2004; Page E01

The Food and Drug Administration will publish draft guidelines today that would encourage companies to submit voluntary safety evaluations of bioengineered food crops that sometimes drift and cross-pollinate with plants in nearby fields.

The biotech industry welcomed the new approach, but environmental and food-safety advocates called it a poor substitute for the rigorous testing they have sought before the planting of scientifically engineered crops that could enter the nation's food supply.

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Monsanto to launch new biotech cotton in 2006

Monsanto Co. plans to launch a new type of genetically modified cotton seed for the 2006 growing season that combines both herbicide-resistant and insect-resistant genes.

The company is "stacking" its Bollgard II cotton seed with the Roundup Ready Flex technology, or combining the two traits into one seed. Both the Bollgard II and Roundup Ready Flex are considered "second-generation" technologies, or those with additional benefits to growers over first-generation products Bollgard and Roundup Ready.

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Biotech crops pose legal issues

Farmers could face lawsuits because of contracts preserving manufacturers' rights

By KRISTIN COLLINS, Staff Writer

A farmer whose pollen drifts on the wind from his cornfield to a neighbor's could face a lawsuit from a multinational corporation.
A farmer who saves his own seed and plants it the next year, as many have done for generations, could also be sued.

These are real risks for the thousands of North Carolina farmers growing genetically modified crops, such as soybeans, corn and cotton plants that have been bred to withstand weed killers, according to a new report from farm advocacy groups.

"Farmers are signing contracts, but we're finding that many people have no idea what the small print says," said Michael Sligh, policy director of the Pittsboro-based Rural Advancement Foundation International. "We see it as a trend toward the reduction of farmers' rights."

Sligh's foundation, along with Farmers Legal Action Group based in St. Paul, Minn., released a report outlining the terms under which genetically modified crops are grown.

More than 90 percent of soybeans grown in North Carolina are genetically modified, Sligh said. He estimated that half of the state's cotton, and a lesser percentage of corn, is also genetically modified.

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Syngenta to Appeal Patent Verdict

By JIM SUHR
The Associated Press
Wednesday, December 15, 2004; 12:20 PM

ST. LOUIS - Syngenta AG is promising to appeal a federal jury ruling favoring agribusiness rivals Monsanto Co. and a Dow Chemical Co. biotechnology subsidiary in a patent-infringement flap over insect-resistant corn.

U.S. District Court jurors in Delaware determined Tuesday that Monsanto and Indianapolis-based Dow AgroSciences did not infringe on a Syngenta patent, essentially finding the patent invalid because Switzerland-based Syngenta did not actually invent the technology.

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Syngenta to Appeal Patent Verdict

Syngenta to Appeal Patent Verdict
Updated: Wednesday, Dec. 15, 2004 - 12:20 PM

By JIM SUHR
AP Business Writer

ST. LOUIS (AP) - Syngenta AG is promising to appeal a federal jury ruling favoring agribusiness rivals Monsanto Co. and a Dow Chemical Co. biotechnology subsidiary in a patent-infringement flap over insect-resistant corn.

U.S. District Court jurors in Delaware determined Tuesday that Monsanto and Indianapolis-based Dow AgroSciences did not infringe on a Syngenta patent, essentially finding the patent invalid because Switzerland-based Syngenta did not actually invent the technology.

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Japan: Researchers ‘tap’ mushrooms for rubber

Ten pounds yield one pound of allergy-free material
Updated: 12:27 p.m. ET Dec. 2, 2004

TOKYO - Japanese researchers say they have produced rubber from a natural substance extracted from an edible, wild mushroom commonly found in the country.

Researchers at Gunma University, west of Tokyo, have not only produced rubber from the chichitake mushroom but the end-product has the advantage of not containing a protein that can cause allergies, said Hiroshi Mitomo, head of the research team at the university's biological and chemical engineering department.

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Farms beneficial for research

by Kristopher Irizarry
Thursday, November 11, 2004
“High tech” is a phrase not usually uttered in a sentence discussing farms, but moving U.S. farming forward in the 21st century is the precise role University of Wisconsin Farm Research Stations play.

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Conflicting Reports on Genetically Modified Corn

U.S. Genetically Modified Corn Is Assailed
NAFTA Report Calls Grain a Threat to Mexico; Administration Disputes Study

By Marc Kaufman
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, November 10, 2004; Page A02

A scientific panel of international experts has concluded that the unintended spread of U.S. genetically modified corn in Mexico -- where the species originated and modified plants are not allowed -- poses a potential threat that should be limited or stopped. But the United States yesterday attacked the report and its conclusions as unscientific, and made clear it did not intend to accept the recommendations.

The report, written by a group convened under the North American Free Trade Agreement, rejected the U.S. position that the modified corn is, in effect, no different than conventionally bred corn hybrids. It said that because the Mexican government has never examined or approved the use of transgenic crops, their presence in the country is an inherent problem.

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GM Corn Poses No Immediate Threat to Mexico's Crops

GENETICALLY ENGINEERED CORN POSES NO IMMEDIATE THREAT TO MEXICAN CROPS, REPORT SAYS
COLUMBUS, Ohio – Genetically modified (GM) corn won't threaten native corn species in Mexico, according to a new report issued by the North American Free Trade Association (NAFTA).

In a country whose culture and identity revolve heavily around corn, or maize – the crop was first developed here thousands of years ago – the thought of imported GM varieties contaminating indigenous plants frightens many citizens, said Allison Snow, a co-author of the report and a professor of evolution, ecology and organismal biology at Ohio State University.

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Asian Biotech Ag Strategy

Friday, October 29, 2004
By Randy A. Hautea and Margarita Escaler

Crop improvement facilitated by modern biotechnology is one the most significant developments in plant biotechnology research and development (R&D). Within Asia, plant biotechnology has largely been acknowledged as a key strategy for achieving food security and sustainable agriculture; many governments give high priority to agricultural biotechnology R&D.

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Reducing Herbicides

Herbicide Helper

Researchers at the University of Texas at Austin have developed a chemical that could help farmers cut down on the hundreds of millions of kilograms of herbicide they spray on their fields each year.

. . .

The university has licensed the technology to Entercel, a startup that aims, via partnership with an agricultural chemical company, to have a combination herbicide and booster product on the market within five years.

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