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United States signs UN plant gene treaty

(Thursday, Nov. 7, 2002 -- CropChoice news) -- AP: The United States on Wednesday became the 76th country to sign an international agreement governing the genetic code of plants, reversing a decision to abstain from the treaty when it was approved last year.

The treaty is intended to preserve plant diversity and thus food supplies by safeguarding the genetic materials.

In addition to promoting genetic diversity, the treaty recognizes farmers' rights to seeds and other plant resources and establishes a system of access and benefit-sharing for 64 crops and plants that are considered to be fundamental to food security.

Though many nations have signed the pact, it must be ratified by at least 40 before it can go into effect. The U.S. Congress must still ratify it.