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Name: Eleanor
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Question:
I am trying to gather information on Mars Inc's plans to patent a gene tically modified cocoa bean which farmers will have to purchase from the company each year as they will not own the rights to replant the previous year's crop. This was recently reported in the UK, possibly on the BBC's Newsnight programme, though I have been unable to find record of it on that site. Could you give me any more information or suggest where I might find it?



Replies:
This is a very controversial subject in the US as well. Using seed from a patented plant is illegal and is called "seed piracy". Farmers count on not getting caught and do it anyway. Monsanto Corp. has inserted what is known as a suicide gene into its Roundup Ready Soybeans that won't allow the new generation of soybean seeds to germinate. This is called the terminator gene. Farmers must buy the seed each year. Of course, this has caused quite a stir. There is a website you may want to check out from Rural Advancement Foundation International (or RAFI). They may be able to get you the info. you want on Mars. Inc. also.

Van Hoeck



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