Federal prosecutors in Arkansas and Iowa have filed criminal charges against eight people, including two Chinese nationals, over alleged plans to ship genetically engineered seeds to China. The Arkansas case involves intrigue – with the FBI attaching covert GPS trackers to the cars of two Chinese scientists in America’s heartland, and an purported attempt to smuggle rice seeds concealed in napkins. The company that had its rice seeds pilfered, was not identified but in the Iowa case that involved corn, the victims were identified as Pioneer and Monsanto. The whole business of developing and selling genetically altered seeds has produced some interesting stories, including manufacturers filing civil suits against farmers who decided to grow their own seeds and crops while trying to avoid royalties. Some seeds are altered to skirt the effects of herbicides or drought or have increased yields, thus enabling larger harvests and more efficient application of chemicals.

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