Yay Happens's profile photoTom Armour's profile photoJosain Zsun's profile photoRobert Leisk's profile photo
It would be interesting to know how many farms Monsanto has "stolen" with their bullying tactics. I don't use Monsanto products. Well, if I know about it. I will have to do more research to ensure that I will not be using food or chemicals that are "treated" with Monsano's crud.
Monsanto needs to be boycotted out of business. Let consumers decide instead of having corporate decision rammed down our throats. MONSANTO is anti-american and anti- freedom!!!! Death to Monsanto.
+Ronald Woodhouse how do you boycott something so prevalent? I would LOVE any tips/advice you have! I'm already a vegan, so I only eat plants already, so I don't have to worry about eating Monsanto-fed animals. :)
I only eat dead animals. So, I am good.
I think people have every right to know if their food is genetically altered. I'm afraid that it's just going to come down to the consumer to solve the problem. If people stop buying products that a company won't label voluntarily then it's going to hit them where it hurts... their big, fat wallets. They say that labeling will cause unnecessary concern and worry for consumers... huh? Isn't that what they said about the tobacco industry in the beginning. Do we really know what issues will arise from GMO products in the next 50 years? People should be allowed to make informed choices about what they feed themselves and their family. End of story.
+Stencil John, ah but did those dead animals eat Monsanto grown crops? It's very likely. Also, you can't be a very healthy human being if you don't eat plants. Of course, I shouldn't be feeding the troll, cuz I'm not really in the mood for a full scale debate tonight.
Monsanto has genetically altered soybeans. 90% of US grown soy comes from their seeds. They use the same tactics on farmers that they do on legislators. Watch Farm Inc. to see just how evil they are.
+Grace McCarter I assume you are joking, would be even more concerned as a vegan. Companys like Whole Food are not fighting GMO in organic labeled products.
Wow, that's...That's really shitty of Monsanto.
Monsanto is a really shitty, disturbing company. I wish there was a good way to boycott them.
GMO high fructose corn syrup might well be at the bottom of the epidemic of childhood obesity in the United States.

And the list goes on, and on, and on....... :'-(
That's why they get away with it, +Jim Pekarek , most people are unaware of what GMOs are in the first place, let alone how many items on the grocery store contain them.

Most people still trust what's in containers on shelves in grocery stores. This is supposed to be the US. The USDA is supposed to be taking care that food on the grocery store shelves is healthy and free of contamination.

Monsanto has enough money to buy anyone in government they need to. And they do.

And I bet if they can't, they kill them like the nuclear industry killed Karen Silkwood.
Genetically modified food could have averse effects other than obesity, basically it's not proven that its even safe. tinkering with the machinery of life here... these genetic modifications end up in the other flora as well pretty soon monsanto has a patent on every tree in the forest because of how resilient plants become
I like how they originally used the constitution to make it this way... All civilized word has these hormones either banned or gives a warning about them. Also, all research about their harmlessness was done by the food companies. I should probably stop eating, I am so disturbed now... No wonder Americans are getting fatter and sicker...
How long before they start suing us for posting on social networking sites?
+Brooke Pablo I rarely go to whole foods anyway, and generally buy from farmers market when I can. Seriously, No trader joes or whole foods in a 100 mile radius of where I live. Not that I'm complaining, we have a small health food store where I'm at, but I mean how do I verify that the small farmers don't use things like Monsanto's tomatoes?
I can't stand those vile vile demons at Monsatanto
this is not right...
Monsanto has an army of lawyer who will attack you in the courts and try to silence you if you disagree with them and you're a credable authority.
I would like to see their heads decorating the spikes on the fence around the White House, personally. They are responsible for the deaths of well over 300,000 Indian farmers who have committed suicide because of the way Monsanto has dealt with them, removing any possible livelihood they had before, and poisoning the entire ecosystem, also.

Same here in the US, minus the suicide farmers.

Monsanto. It's all bad.
Does all this chatter remind anyone else of the Portlandia "Is the chicken local?" clip on YouTube? Gimme an effing break here!
1. There is zero scientific evidence that GMOs are less healthy than other foods. Zero.

2.Since non-GMO food breeds (plants) have also been genetically engineered through a variety of random mutations (often induced by radioactivity, not that that matters), the only difference is that in the GMO case the mutations are more targeted and controlled and subject to more-stringent testing. If you randomly cross-breed a bunch of stuff, you can release it in the wild with no regulation at all.

3. I would have a problem with a law prohibiting sellers of non-GMO products from labeling their "purity." But I have no problem with not forcing irrelevant scare tactics onto food labels.

4. GMO foods reduce the use of pesticides and herbicides, and by raising agricultural productivity per acre they a) help feed the world more cheaply and b) reduce the amount of land under cultivation, reducing soil erosion and allowing for more forest area.

Other than that, the crazy pitchfork-and-torches comments here are fine.
Don't like it? Then just starve you asshole libs. Die.
I would love to see Monsanto burn to the ground.
Thank you +Steven Postrel. I have done extensive research on GMOs. There were occasionally adverse effects, but ones that can be easily fixed.
That word. You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.
The sadest thing is that this all is done just so a few already rich men can get even more wealthy...
1. Monsanto is trying to make a profit, just like Whole Foods or Apple or your local yogurt store.
2. Monsanto invents seeds that it sells to farmers on the basis that the farmers using those seeds will make more money by getting higher yields, using fewer pesticides, etc.
3. Farmers purchase these seeds because, by and large, they really do provide the promised improvements.
4. Monsanto cannot get paid for its inventions if people get the seeds for free. If it cannot get paid, then it would have to go out of the business of inventing better seeds.
5. If farmers had lots of cash on hand, they could pay for a twenty-year seed supply upfront, but they don't. But if farmers only buy seeds for one year and then use them for the other nineteen for free, then Monsanto can't make money from its inventions and would have to find a new business.
6. So Monsanto tries to find ways to stop farmers from free-riding on its inventions, including so-called terminator seeds. They are the DRM of the seed business.
7. No one is forced to pay Monsanto "tribute"--they can always go back to using non-Monsanto seeds to grow their crops. The only "forcing" occurs because the Monsanto seeds are so much more productive that it takes way more land, labor, and chemicals to compete without them.
8. Instead of attacking Monsanto, those who want to lower the prices of high-yield seeds ought to lower their rhetoric about GMOs so that more firms will be willing to enter the market and compete with Monsanto in making better GMO seeds. The way the current political environment operates gives Monsanto an effective entry barrier to new competitors--few are willing to bear the costs of dealing with greenie hostility whereas Monsanto has already sunk that cost.
9. None of this will matter to the religious zealots represented in this comment thread, but at least it's on the record now.
Point #5---The fact that Monsanto will FORCE farmers to destroy their legacy seed stock is criminal--because there "might" be a monsanto seed in there. Seriously man, what the hell.
1. There is nothing "theoretical" about my explanation. It is relatively unemotional, which may not fly with some people.
2. The whole child-brothel thing is a red herring. You are assuming what you are trying to prove, i.e. that what Monsanto does is as evil as forcing a child into a brothel. But that is precisely what is at issue, and the facts and context do not support it.
3. Many patent lawsuits in many fields could be called abusive, especially if they are frivolous and known to be frivolous by the plaintiff and are deployed solely to raise rivals' costs. There is a broader question about whether the patent system functions appropriately to stimulate rather than retard innovation; the answer is likely to vary from industry to industry. My sense is that software patents (a fairly new institutional innovation) have turned out to be a bad idea, while genetic engineering patents have worked well. But that's an entirely different question from whether patenting food varieties is per se evil, which seems to be the attitude of many here.
4. I'm still not getting the force or coercion aspect--don't buy Monsanto's seeds if you don't want to. Besides indigenous "natural" seeds, lots of other greedy corporations are eager to sell you their purportedly high-yield varieties, usually without Monsanto's restrictions.
5. Hyperbole about the suffering caused by Monsanto reflects fevered imaginations rather than facts. Net of everything, Monsanto's inventions have indisputably increased food output per acre, per pound of pesticide, per dollar of capital equipment, and per hour of hard human labor.
6. If you want to take the truly evil position that poor people in poor countries should stay shackled to poverty-inducing and ecologically destructive farming methods, be my guest. But at least admit that your plan is to keep the bulk of the population trapped in rural poverty instead of progressing to look like developed countries, where a small number of rich and productive farmers feed large populations who get to do other things. Beating up on Monsanto to cover up one's bad faith, technophobia, anti-trade bigotry, and contemptuous paternalism is a neurosis, not a philosophy.
+Steven Postrel In answer to your post before the last.

#1 "Monsanto is just trying to make a profit." yes. But so is the con man. It's all about the drive behind the profit. Is it legitimate profit or is it exploitative profit? The two are completely different beasts. One builds an economy while the other destroys an economy.

#2 The assumption "farmers will make more profits" is wrong. The goal of the Monsanto seeds is to increase the bushels per acre of crops. What isn't mentioned is the heavy increase of fertilizer, irrigation, and herbicide/pesticide that eats away at that "extra yield profit".

#3 Is disproven by experience when taken in 10 year averages. In the initial 3 to 5 years, yes the yields are higher. However GMO crops require a constant cropping of the land versus the cyclic cropping using traditional natural bred seeds. This intense cropping deny the land the necessary resting period as well as the complimentary counter-crop that re-fixes nutrients into the soil.

#4 traditional breeders get paid for their seed as well. They just can't restrict farmers from saving seed for the next cycle. Fortunately (for the seed breeders, which doesn't really take that much money when done in the traditional cross-breeding method) farmers will always have a 100% loss year, or a spoiled seed bin every few years, so they must go back for new seed. Sometimes they even try a different breed of seed and must purchase it from the breeders. As such there is a symbiotic, instead of parasitic, relationship between the farmers and the seed breeders.

#5 Again, if you skip the expensive method of using viruses or chemical stripping and cutting to inflict damage to the DNA strands then breeding is quite inexpensive and productive. This demand of "Monsanto must make money" is an effect of their forced splicing system that is inferior to the traditional cross-breeding in both money , time, and seed appropriateness for the soil conditions. Without the artificial high-tech methods used by Monsanto the cost wouldn't need to be born. It's lie producing a $1000 car versus a 10,000 car with the differences being one can infect and force the payment of the other without the consent of the driver.

#6 terminator seeds are great for direct genetic modified seeds. Unfortunately Monsanto can't get the "terminator" command right all of the time so the seed spreads into the neighbor fields. Is this really the fault of the farmer that used the second generation? Or the fault of Monsanto for incompetency, or releasing a known flawed product?

#7 Farmer A plants Monsanto seeds. Farmer B plants traditional Tam or Eagle breed wheat (look them up). Farmer A is upwind of farmer b. Farmer B harvests his crop and saves the seed. The next year Farmer B plants his seeds and a nice wheat crop grows. Monsanto shows up , tests the second generation of wheat grown by farmer B and discovers that it contains part of the genetic code of the wheat that farmer A planted the previous year. Monsanto demands that farmer B destroy the crop or pay a penalty rate for unauthorized second generation seed. Farmer B says "no. I did nothing wrong and couldn't have known.". Monsanto sues farmer B and farmer B looses. EVERYTHING. Monsanto takes all of the assets of farmer B. (This is repeated multiple times per year here in the USA. Search your legal archives for numerous examples).

#8 Monsanto owns the patents on genetically modifying soybeans, wheat, cotton, and several other crops. No other viable methods of modifying these crops is known currently. As such no competitor can license, or get around the process of genetically modifying seeds, so they simply can't compete due to the scientific monopoly that Monsanto has on the process. Checkmate. There is no competition. Other methods have been tried and Monsanto either a: bought the company, or b: sued the start-up so that they went out of business with fraudulent claims of patent infringement. (search Google news for Monsanto lawsuits against competitors.). In short, it is currently impossible to compete against Monsanto in any meaningful way.

#9 None of this will matter to the religious zealot that is hell bent on defending highway robbery capitalism. However the #truth is now on record from a 150+ year american farming family member that has direct experience with Monsanto, GMO crops, and how Monsanto operates. (See? We can both throw accusations. The key difference is mine are actually well founded facts from experience, and your's are armchair quarterbacking without fact or basis of reality.)

If you have further questions or misconceptions that you would like corrected I'd be more than happy to answer them. :)

BTW I drove the previous generation of this split frame beast the last time I went up to Kansas for the wheat harvest. Dumping on the run is a very tricky operation. http://tinyurl.com/77tkms9
+Jon Lightner If a field is tested by Monsanto and the patented genetic code is found then Monsanto typically requests that the entire field, and any associated close proximity fields owned by the same farmer also be destroyed.

Patent law truly does operate in "guilty before proven innocent" in GMO crops.
+Steven Postrel Post your references on this mythological "mutation via radiation" of seeds.

Fact: Russia used nuclear radiation in the 1950's 60's and 70's as a way of sterilizing seeds that were destined for human consumption so that they would not rot or germinate.

Radiation damage is too random to produce genetic changes that are beneficial. It's infinitely far more likely to fatally damage the genes than to beneficially modify them.

Please consult a scientist to confirm this.
+Brian Wolfe Exactly. Lets "Accidentally" let our seed get into a farmers field. Then lets TRESPASS ON THEIR LAND to check to see if its there. Then lets subpoena that farmer to court for violating our copyright on NATURE. THEN lets make him burn his fields. THEN lets destroy all of his ancestry seeds that his family has kept in storage.

Then lets sell him the product that ruined his farm, or buy him out for pennies on the dollar.

1, 2, and 3. There is no con. Monsanto's product has been around long enough for farmers to have seen the long-term results. Monsanto has had problems with farmers using their seeds without paying, not with farmers abandoning the product. And if farmers were abandoning the product, nobody here would be upset. Farmers are actually stealing the product because it's so good. The Argentine government has gone so far as to break Monsanto's patent so that its agricultural exporters can export cheap food to Europe.

4. Traditional breeders sell an inferior product that also costs way less to get approved by the authorities (see 8 below). So sure, they use a different revenue model because their cost structure and selling proposition are completely different. It has nothing to do with symbiosis v. parasitism--Monsanto is just as symbiotic with its customers, since both sides benefit from the relationship.

5. You're still assuming what you're trying to prove in the face of the overwhelming evidence that farmers worldwide avidly buy and steal these seeds. Most of the agricultural output in places like the US, Australia, Argentina, etc. is produced by sophisticated farmers using GPS guided tractors, precision chemical dispensing, and detailed data analysis. These guys have flocked to the Monsanto product.

6 & 7. You can't have it both ways. The evil "terminator seed" (a technology actually developed by Delta Pine Land co. and the Dept. of Agriculture, I think) is an alternative to suing farmers for illegally planting Monsanto's seeds. It's pretty much one or the other. The sterile seeds were developed specifically to avoid the messy lawsuits and private eyes crawling around looking for stray seeds on farmers' property.

The farmers who have gotten in trouble with Monsanto were found--in American and Canadian courts---to be deliberately trying to take advantage of Round-up ready seeds without paying for them, putting their more-honest competitors at a disadvantage. Monsanto seeds can blow on your land and Monsanto has no recours if they mix into your crop. But if you deliberately gather them up for the next planting season and then use Round-up, so that 98% of your crop is Monsanto-derived, then you're violating their patent rights and your profits are forfeit. Nothing is easier than to avoid mass planting of Round-up-ready seeds followed by application of Round-up.
8. The reason why Monsanto has a monopoly is because the regulatory cost of getting new GM seeds approved is so ridiculously high. As the BBC noted at http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/8789279.stm:

"Monsanto is certainly the most determined and successful agbiotech company. In their view, they had to be; they bet the company on agbiotech because unlike their rivals (who also sell nylon or agrichemicals) they had nothing else to fall back on. But monopoly is bad for everyone. Here's a part solution; deregulate GM.If it costs more than $20m (£13m) to get regulatory approval for one transgene, lots of little GM-based solutions to lots of problems will be too expensive and therefore not deployed, and the public sector and small start-up companies will not make the contribution they could. Never before has such excessive regulation been created in response to (still) purely hypothetical risks. The cost of this regulation - demanded by green campaigners - has bolstered the monopoly of the multinationals. This is a massive own-goal and has postponed the benefits to the environment and to us all."

In other words, the problem is mostly your fault.

Finally, with regard to the use of radiation to induce mutations for generating new seed varieties, your claim of non-existence is completely false. See http://www.nytimes.com/2007/08/28/science/28crop.html?_r=2&ref=science&oref=slogin for a good description of the state of play in 2007. Gamma rays are responsible for creating the Star Ruby grapefruit, to take one of many, many examples.

You can also see http://www-pub.iaea.org/MTCD/publications/PDF/Newsletters/MB-REV-12.pdf for an older giant list of induced-mutation crop varieties.
+Steven Postrel
1,2,3 It's a con if a company makes claims of significant productivity gains that don't materialize when compared to using the same irrigation, fertilizer, and poison treatments that GMO requires on traditional breed. I suggest that before you continue to promote the lie of "greatly increased productivity" that you actually talk to a few farmers (hmm, sort of like my family maybe? Or our neighbors in Kansas that Monsanto sued?)

#4 a business only extracts and adds no net value to an industry then it's parasitic. The model that Monsanto uses is exactly that. There are plenty of varieties that are just as hardy and perform as well, and in many cases better, than Monsanto's seed. this is a fact.

#5 GPS guided is done by the larger corporate farms. It is actually quite necessary when you are talking about dozens of square miles if not a few hundred of farm land. The majority of family farms can't afford it. We use some of the most advanced gear to run our 5 square miles. It's starting to look like you read a bunch of stuff from newspapers and have taken it as gospel instead of talking to the family farms.

#6 Monsanto has it's own version of terminator seeds in the original GMO crops. It didn't work reliably (as we can see now with accidental cross-contamination, which you think is always deliberate). It's not a matter of "having it both ways". That's just a lame attempt at dismissing what has happened.

#7 Farmers that got into trouble. Everyone is automatically guilty. Right. I can see where your frame of mind is coming from. You'll pardon me for using the same standard as I find you guilty by default of being a Monsanto shill and/or fan-boy. Please defend yourself beyond a reasonable doubt that you must be innocent. If you can not conclusively prove it, with absolutely no doubt, then you will be written off.

Another item that has been coming about because of GMOs like "roundup ready" seeds. These crops rely on the chemical herbicide since they don't have as good of natural competitor suppression. This leads to higher use of herbicides. As we all know, this leads to the susceptible weeds being killed off while leaving behind the ones that have a natural immunity (where do you think they got the genes for their GMO seed to begin with?) End result, large areas of land int he USA are now unusable due to over-cropping and herbicide resistant plant life taking over.

See the problem yet?

radiation mutated......Interesting article. I'll check out the references. We learn something new every day. The question is can you learn the truth about Monsanto?
Deregulate GM? Please examine the situation in India to understand why unregulated GMO crops are a truly bad idea.
1. On the efficacy of Monsanto's seed: If it were no good, people wouldn't pay extra for it to use it and wouldn't spray Round-up. Your like someone insisting that McDonald's food doesn't really taste good when billions of users disagree. What percentage of Monsanto's many, many customers do you think are either a) involuntarily using their seed because it "accidentally" got planted on their land and then they were "forced" to pay for it or b) repeatedly getting fooled into buying this seed even though it's a bad deal and the experience with it is over a decade long? It is not plausible that these two categories could account for more than a tiny fraction of Monsanto's huge worldwide customer base. So unless you have something like a controlled study from USDOA or the equivalent to back you up, I have to call BS on your empirical claim.

2. Any farmer who is able to be profitable today (especially without subsidy) has my respect, as global productivity has risen so much that its practically an Olympic sport. Back in the days when over half the U.S. population were farmers, markets weren't as developed and there were a lot of really lousy farmers working iffy land to compete against. Nowadays, with maybe 1% of the population farming and global trade in food greatly facilitated by better transport, communications, and institutions, there aren't that many weak players left in business (at least in the developed world). But that's precisely why I don't believe that all these sophisticated family and corporate farmers, who are highly specialized professionals with access to a wealth of information from both formal and informal sources, are consistently making the same costly mistake by using Monsanto's seed.

3. The "having it both ways" argument has to do with your comment compatriots who think terminator genes are evil when they work, as opposed to you who seem to think they're evil when they don't work.

New technologies or environments often create all kinds of property rights problems that have to get worked out over time. Cattle ranchers in the west had huge problems with rustling and encroaching on others' land. Branding was a partial solution, but it wasn't until barbed wire was invented that things got to be more regularized. Read Gary Libecap on the problems of oil-field unitization, which were never adequately solved and led to inefficiently high pumping rates and hence lower overall extraction from fields that cut across multiple owners' property.

4. The farmers who had to pay Monsanto were found responsible after court trials. Those finders of fact had detailed evidence about who did what to whom that we are not going to fruitfully out-guess in a comment thread. But due process was given, just as in any commercial dispute. The famous Canadian case around 2001 featured lots of damning testimony about the farmer concerned using Round-up even though he denied it, expert testimony that stray seeds could not possibly have led to 98% of his crop being Round-up ready, and then a court determination that all that was not even needed to prove because the guy was caught gathering up the seeds deliberately and planting them the next year. I get it that the pressures on farmers are great and the incentive to cut a corner or two in order to compete are high. But they got caught.

5. The argument for deregulating GM seeds is that the method of creating them is irrelevant to their environmental impact. If a seed with the same genetic structure is developed by "conventional" breeding (including zapping with gamma rays from a cobalt source), it can be introduced without any special regulatory oversight. But if the exact same genetic structure were created on purpose by genetic engineering, then it suffers a huge regulatory burden. That is simply irrational and works to protect Monsanto from competition.
Sales departments have been able to beguile people into buying the more expensive and less effective products for many many years now. I don't think I need to go into the details of how they accomplish this feat. The end result though is that top sales != good product.

As for #2, then thank you. We make money on the 3 or 4 year average. Some years are gangbuster, some bad, some break even.

#3 where did I ever say that terminator seeds were evil? I really wish you wouldn't put words into my mouth. My statement was to the effect that when the terminator seeds do not work, eg. they don't terminate the line, then Monsanto sues. That's a faulty product. It is also the fault of the product supplier, not the farmer.

As for #4, this is where I think you have a serious deficit of real world knowledge and are unwilling to learn. This is also where the majority of farmers that are against GMO crops have the biggest issue.

The farmers (and I have read the cases, and indirectly know a couple) were not trying to cheat Monsanto. Sure, there are a handful that do try and get caught. However the majority are guilty by accident. A simple mistake of which seed came from which field. Mix ups happen. Or there are MANY cases where a farmer never bought the Monsanto seed. They had a field down wind of another farmer's field that was Monsanto's seed. When the wheat was harvested the farmer thought (in good faith I might dd) that the seed was still one of the traditional breeds. The next year when it's planted and sprouts Monsanto comes by, spot checks fields (by trespassing I might add) of farmers that have never bought Monsanto seed. Monsanto then demands a penalty price for the entire field using their own thick-sown estimated (which are always way more bushels per quarter than is ever used in real life practice) and thus hold the farmer for ransom. The farmer, who was completely innocent of intentional infringement, is found guilty by the courts because patent law doesn't allow for innocent infringement.

If you read about the native corn fields in norther Mexico you'll find that they have lost almost all native corn breeds to contamination via the wind from nearby fields. The Monsanto corn has very nearly "bred out" hundreds of traditional corn varieties that are more hardy int he field. (The Monsanto breeds also include hyped up pollination and thus crowds out the other strains of corn)

Now go read up on how the farming industry is regulated in India and how Monsanto used to (and some indications show that they still do this) illegally influence through bribery and other methods the local officials that sign off on what seeds are available. In many towns in India (estimates range from 1/3 to 1/2 now) you simply can't buy non-Monsanto seed any more.

Again, you seem to be utterly ignorant of what's really going on here. I don't know if this is by choice, selective bias, or what. But you no longer have that excuse. If you persist in proclaiming Monsanto as completely innocent of harming farmers via it's GMO products, then I'll just have to write you off as a lost cause in rational thinking.

#5 The process of genetically editing and "zapping" with cobalt are completely different in process. However I agree that "zapping" should be regulated since it's not a natural mutation, but an induced one just like genetic editing. Only naturally cross-bred corn should be regulation free since the genes of the cross-breeding are all field tested so to speak prior to merging.
This has been interesting, but I think I'll have to let you have the last word since I don't feel that my last few points have been seriously contested, much less refuted, and time is limted. (You might want to ask yourself how a supposedly less hardy seed somehow gets loose and outcompetes all the other seeds or why the exact same gene is safe if it was inserted randomly rather than purposefully.)

Thank you for the dialogue. Best of luck with the weather, the bugs, the weeds, and the markets.

+Steven Postrel You might want to learn a bit about how pollination works for various plants before you so offhandedly dismiss reality.

But as you said, time is limited. :) It just sucks that you think yourself so superior to everyone else that you are unwilling to listen to them.
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