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A recent patent decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit involving corn seed may have far-reaching implications for feeding the hungry of the Third World, as well as for agribusiness worldwide.

The appeals court, in a ruling handed down on Jan. 19, determined that seeds, as well as the plants grown from them, are patentable under 35 U.S.C. 101. Pioneer Hi-Bred International Inc. v. J.E.M. Ag Supply Inc., No. 99-1035. Although the patent office had been granting plant and seed patents, it was not until this ruling that patentability was firmly established.

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