Wednesday, June 18, 2003

Nature updates Steve Jones's story
In March, some farmers -- encouraged by local seed suppliers, according to several growers and officials -- started a campaign to get Jones's core funding of some $200,000 a year cut. They wanted money spent on projects that would involve commercial partners and develop crops containing patented genetic mutations. If a seed contains a patented trait it can't be legally replanted.

Jones claims that some farmers were misled. "They didn't realize that they would be destroying the public winter-wheat breeding programme at WSU," he says.

After weeks of political manoeuvring, the Washington Wheat Commission, which helps to fund WSU research programmes, voted last month to underwrite Jones's studies for the next year. The board of the Washington Association of Wheat Growers, a 3,000-member group that strongly influences the commission, voted six to five in favour of Jones's research.


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