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Seed sampling bill gets Senate hearing

HELENA, Mont. (AP)--Farmers lined up on both sides of a bill dealing with how growers' crops are sampled to test for illegal use of patented seeds.

House Bill 445, introduced by Democratic Rep. Betsy Hands, was heard March 17 by the Senate Agriculture Committee. The measure has already passed the House on a 57 to 43 vote.

The bill aims to establish rules governing how companies sample farmers' crops to determine if they are planting patented seeds without paying for them.

Supporters of the bill say it's needed to protect farmers from harassment by large biotechnology companies, such as Monsanto.

Opponents argue it would shelter farmers who illegally "pirate" seeds and discourage the biotechnology industry from operating in Montana.



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