Monsanto are offering farmers a special deal: the chance to not only pay over 40-60% more for their seed but to end up as corporate serfs.
With last year's fall in profits, and the company share price taking a hammering again - this time over possible litigation liabilities, Monsanto is struggling to regain favour in the investment community with a price hike on their GM "Roundup Ready" seed in the US. This is where the lion's share of the company's GM seed business is conducted. But there are warnings that Monsanto could face a farmer backlash.
According to a Reuters article, "Not only are some buyers reluctant to take biotech corn, farm leaders said, but use of Roundup Ready corn seed is prompting herbicide-resistant "volunteer" corn -- from seeds left over from the previous year -- to sprout in fields where farmers are trying to grow soybeans. And, farmers said, the seeds already are priced at a big premium over conventional varieties. A bag of Roundup Ready corn seed in the Plains costs $140 to $150, compared with about $90 for a bag of conventional corn seed."
Meanwhile, GM soybeans face a 10% price rise yet are already priced more than 30 percent higher than conventional seeds, according to seed dealers.
So will US farmers still go on buying them? If they don't they will have to have the courage to buck the company, USDA, US farm bureau clamour for biotechnology. Donald White, a University of Illinois plant pathologist, explains why US farmers have gone for GM corn in the past: "what happens is there is a herd mentality. Everyone has to have a biotech program." White's view chimes in with a University of Iowa study on why farmers grew GM soya. A poll of approximately 800 farmers in Iowa, carried out by the Leopold Centre at Iowa State University, revealed that most chose [GM] Roundup Ready beans because they thought they produced higher yields than non-GM varieties. But when actual data from their farms was analysed the opposite was found. "It is interesting to note....that increasing crop yields was cited by over half the farmers as the reason for planting GMO soybeans, yet yields were actually lower". http://ngin.tripod.com/farming.htm
There's also the question of how confident farmers feel to stop growing these crops given the power of the companies and the extraordinary contractual obligations placed upon them - see items below.
*GM crop farmers 'will end up serfs'
*Corporate control of farmers
*Monsanto Technology/Stewardship Agreement
GM crop farmers 'will end up serfs'
Western Morning News, 9 August 2003
Farmers who choose to grow GM crops will put their entire livelihoods at risk, a staunch Westcountry critic of the technology claimed yesterday.
Michael Hart, chairman of the Small and Family Farms Alliance, has recently obtained copies of agreements which Canadian and American farmers have to sign when deciding to grow the genetically engineered plants - and he believes that the terms and conditions of the contracts are "enslaving".
Now he has warned Westcountry farmers that adopting the technology would transform growers into "serfs" working for big biotech companies.
It is stated in both documents that growers who choose to adopt the plants will not be allowed to keep the seeds for the purpose of replanting, selling, giving or transferring.
The Canadian agreement further states: "The grower shall purchase and use only Roundup branded herbicide labelled for use on all Roundup Ready canola (oilseed rape) seed purchased."
Another condition stipulates that any farmer who grows GM crops for a year but then decides to switch to conventional farming must have his fields inspected by experts working for the biotechnology company. Over a three-year period they will check to see if any GM plants have inadvertently grown amongst the conventional crop.
If they have, the farmer faces being sued by the companies for using the gene without paying for the royalty.
The same conditions appear in the American agreement, but there is a further term which states that any cases involving farmers and GM companies can only be dealt by a court specially set up in St Louis, Missouri.
Mr Hart said: "If you're a farmer living in California and get sued by one of the biotech companies the case can only be dealt with in Missouri. I don't know if the same will apply for British farmers should the technology be adopted in the UK or if there's going to be a court somewhere in Brussels for the whole of Europe. I can't understand the logic of it."
Mr Hart added: "I would warn all farmers in Britain to go with a fine-tooth comb and ask thousands of questions before really deciding to grow GM plants. Both the American and the Canadian experiences have shown that small farmers who'd already grown these crops could not revert to conventional farming because they were afraid of being prosecuted. Once you've signed a contract it's difficult to get out.
"Biotech companies don't take any risks and there are no insurers who wish to cover you in case of any losses. If for instance, after a few years, GM crops prove to have side effects, the companies won't take any responsibilities. It will be the farmer."
The American contract states: "The exclusive remedy of the grower and the limit of the liability of any seller for any and all losses, injury or damages resulting from the use or handling of a product containing the company's gene technology (including claims based in contract, negligence, product liability, strict liability, other tort or otherwise) shall be paid by the grower for the quantity of such product [...] in no event shall the seller be liable for any incidental, consequential, special or punitive damages."
The Canadian document also stipulates that growers will pay the seller a sum "equal to 15 (approximately £10) for each acre capable of being planted using the seed."
Mr Hart added: "These conditions are extremely strict and binding, particularly those included in the Canadian document. There is an element of fear with North American farmers who are growing GM. They're scared for their livelihoods. Even to obtain the copies of the two contracts it was extremely difficult and I had to wait nearly a year to get hold of them. Everybody made sure that names or identification numbers were deleted."
But a spokesman for ABC, the umbrella body for biotech companies in the UK, said last night: "Without commercialisation it's not possible to speculate. However, to benefit from this as six million other farmers in the world already do any agreement will have to be mutually acceptable to farmers and companies alike."
Corporate control of farmers
Friedrich Vogel, head of BASF's crop protection business, predicted several years ago that strict contracts will dictate production methods and severely limit the farmer's share of any added value GM crops offer to food processors and retailers.
Quebec Agriculture Minister, Remy Trudel, has said, "We could be coming back to a situation like the Middle Ages where producers have to depend on a single, powerful company for their livelihood."
In some cases, according to North Dakota farmer, Tom Wiley, "Farmers are being sued for having GMOs on their property that they did not buy, do not want, will not use and cannot sell."
"After reviewing Monsanto's 2001 Technology Agreement, I would discourage any farmer from signing this document. Not only does this contract severely limit the options of the producer, it also limits Monsanto's liability. Marketing agreements and contracts are only effective if they serve to protect the interests of all parties involved. The protection of the Monsanto contract is strictly one-sided and I would encourage producers to carefully consider this before entering into this agreement." - Oklahoma's Secretary of Agriculture
Quotes taken from: http://ngin.tripod.com/farming.htm
Monsanto Technology/Stewardship Agreement
(Limited Use License)
This Monsanto Technology/Stewardship Agreement is entered into between you (Grower) and Monsanto Company (Monsanto) and consists of the terms on this page and on the reverse side of this page.
This Monsanto Technology/Stewardship Agreement grants you a limited license to use Roundup Ready® soybeans, YieldGard® Corn Borer corn and YieldGard® Corn Rootworm corn*, Roundup Ready® corn, YieldGard® Corn Borer with Roundup Ready® corn, Roundup Ready® cotton, Bollgard® cotton, Bollgard® with Roundup Ready® cotton, Bollgard®II* cotton, Bollgard®II with Roundup Ready® cotton, Roundup Ready® sugarbeets and Roundup Ready® canola (Monsanto Technologies). This Agreement also contains your stewardship responsibilities and requirements associated with the Monsanto Technologies.
This Agreement and the parties relationship shall be governed by the laws of the state of Missouri and the United States (other than the choice of law rules).
BINDING ARBITRATION FOR COTTON-RELATED CLAIMS MADE BY GROWER:
Any claim or action made or asserted by a cotton Grower (or any other person claiming an interest in the Grower's cotton crop) against Monsanto or any seller of cotton Seed containing Monsanto Technology arising out of and/or in connection with this Agreement, or the sale or performance of the cotton Seed containing Monsanto Technology other than claims arising under the patent laws of the United States must be resolved by binding arbitration. The parties acknowledge that the transaction involves interstate commerce. The parties agree that arbitration shall be conducted pursuant to the provisions of the Federal Arbitration Act, 9 U.S.C. Sec 1 et seq. and administered under the Commercial Dispute Resolution Procedures established by the American Arbitration Association ("AAA"). The term "seller" as used throughout this Agreement refers to all parties involved in the production, development, distribution, and/or sale of the Seed containing Monsanto Technology. In the event that a claim is not amicably resolved within 3o days of Monsanto's receipt of the Grower's notice required pursuant to this Agreement any party may initiate arbitration. The arbitration shall be heard in the capital city of the state of Grower's residence or in any other place as the parties decide by mutual agreement. When a demand for arbitration is filed by a party, the Grower and Monsanto/sellers shall each immediately pay one half of the AAA filing fee. In addition, Grower and Monsanto/sellers shall each pay one half of AAA's administrative and arbitrator fees as those fees are incurred. The arbitrator(s) shall have the power to apportion the ultimate responsibility for all AAA fees in the final award. The arbitration proceedings and results are to remain confidential and are not to be disclosed without the written agreement of all parties, except to the extent necessary to effectuate the decision or award of the arbitrator(s) or as otherwise required by law.
FORUM SELECTION FOR NON-COTTON-RELATED CLAIMS MADE BY GROWER AND ALL OTHER CLAIMS. THE PARTIES CONSENT TO THE SOLE AND EXCLUSIVE JURISDICTION AND VENUE OF THE U.S. DISTRICT COURT FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF MISSOURI, EASTERN DIVISION, AND THE CIRCUIT COURT OF THE COUNTY OF ST. LOUIS, MISSOURI, (any lawsuit must be filed in St. Louis, MO) FOR ALL CLAIMS AND DISPUTES ARISING OUT OF OR CONNECTED IN ANY WAY WITH THIS AGREEMENT AND THE USE OF THE SEED OR THE MONSANTO TECHNOLOGIES EXCEPT FOR COTTON-RELATED CLAIMS MADE BY GROWER.
THIS AGREEMENT CONTAINS A BINDING ARBITRATION PROVISION FOR COTTON RELATED CLAIMS PURSUANT TO THE PROVISIONS OF THE FEDERAL ARBITRATION ACT, 9 U.S.C. 1 ET SEQ., WHICH MAY BE ENFORCED BY THE PARTIES.
To channel grain produced to appropriate markets as necessary to prevent movement to markets when the grain has not yet received regulatory approval for import.
To implement an Insect Resistance Management program as specified in the applicable Bollgard cotton and YieldGard corn sections of the most recent Technology Use Guide (TUG) and to cooperate and comply with Insect Resistance Management programs.
To use Seed containing Monsanto Technologies solely for planting a single commercial crop.
Not to supply any Seed containing patented Monsanto Technologies to any other person or entity for planting.
Not to save any crop produced from this Seed for planting and not to supply Seed produced from this Seed to anyone for planting.
Not to use or to allow others to use Seed containing patented Monsanto Technologies Seed or for crop breeding, research, generation of herbicide registration data, or seed production.
To use on Roundup Ready crops only a Roundup® agricultural herbicide or other authorized non-selective herbicide which could not be used in the absence of the Roundup Ready gene (see TUG for details on authorized non-selective products). Use of any selective herbicide labeled for the same crop without the Roundup Ready gene is not restricted by this Agreement.
MONSANTO DOES NOT MAKE ANY REPRESENTATIONS, WARRANTIES OR RECOMMENDATIONS CONCERNING THE USE OF PRODUCTS MANUFACTURED OR MARKETED BY OTHER COMPANIES WHICH ARE LABELED FOR USE IN ROUNDUP READY CROP(S). MONSANTO SPECIFICALLY DISCLAIMS ALL RESPONSIBILITY FOR THE USE OF THESE PRODUCTS IN ROUNDUP READY CROP(S). ALL QUESTIONS AND COMPLAINTS ARISING FROM THE USE OF PRODUCTS MANUFACTURED OR MARKETED BY OTHER COMPANIES SHOULD BE DIRECTED TO THOSE COMPANIES.
To read and follow the applicable sections of the TUG, which is incorporated into and is a part of this Agreement, for specific requirements relating to the terms of this Agreement, and to abide by and be bound by the terms of the TUG as it may be amended from time to time.
To acquire Seed containing these Monsanto Technologies only from a seed company with technology license(s) from Monsanto or from a licensed company's authorized dealer.
To pay any applicable technology fees for cotton, canola, and sugarbeet traits as well as the purchase price of corn and soybeans, which is in part a Monsanto royalty. (Some seed company licensees may continue to charge a technology fee to Growers on soybean Seed and corn Seed).
Final regulatory approvals are pending for YieldGard Corn Rootworm and Bollgard II. These products are not currently registered with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and arc lot currently available for sale or commercial use.
UPON APPROVAL, THIS MONSANTO TECHNOLOGY, STEWARDSHIP AGREEMENT (LIMITED USE LICENSE) WILL BE USED AND SHALL GOVERN THE TERMS AND CONDITIONS FOR THE USE OF THOSE TECHNOLOGIES.
YOU RECEIVE FROM MONSANTO COMPANY:
A limited use license to purchase and plant seed containing Monsanto Technologies ("Seed") and apply Roundup agricultural herbicides and other authorized non-selective herbicides over the top of Roundup Ready crops (see TUG for details regarding authorized non-selective products). Monsanto retains ownership of the Monsanto Technologies including the genes (for example, the Roundup Ready gene) and the gene technologies. Grower receives the right to use the Monsanto Technologies subject to the conditions specified in this Agreement.
Enrollment in the value package called Roundup Rewards`-`, designed to bring increased benefits to you.
A limited use license to prepare and apply on glyphosate-tolerant soybean, cotton, or canola crops (or have others prepare and apply) tank mixes of, or sequentially apply (or have others sequentially apply), Roundup agricultural herbicides or other glyphosate herbicides labeled for use or those crops with quizalofop, clethodim, sethoxydim, fluazifop, and/or fenoxaprop to control volunteer Roundup Ready corn in Grower's crops for the 2003 growing season. However, neither Grower nor a third party may utilize any type of co-pack or premix of glyphosate plus one or more of the above-identified active ingredients in the preparation of a tank mix.
Channeling: Grain/commodities harvested from Roundup Ready corn, YieldGard Corn Borer with Roundup Ready corn, Roundup Ready canola and Roundup Ready sugarbeets are approved for U.S. food and feed use, but not yet approved in certain export markets where approval is not certain to be received before the end of 2003. As a result, the Grower must direct those grain/commodities to the following approved market options: feeding on farm, use in domestic feed lots, elevators that agree to accept the grain, or other approved uses in domestic markets only. The American Seed Trade Association web site (wvvw.amseed.org) includes a list of grain handlers' positions on accepting Roundup Ready corn. For additional information on grain market options, call 1-800-768-6387.
Regulatory approvals: Monsanto Technologies may only be used within the United States where the products have been approved for use by all required governmental agencies.
YOU UNDERSTAND (continued):
Insect Resistance Management (IRM): When planting any YieldGard or Bollgard product, you must implement an IRM program including planting a non-Bt refuge according to the size and distance guidelines specified in the Bollgard cotton and YieldGard corn sections of the most recent Monsanto TUG including any supplemental amendments. You may lose your limited use license to use these products if you fail to follow the IRM program required by this Agreement.
Pollen flow: You should refer to the TUG for information on crop stewardship regarding the potential movement of pollen to neighboring crops.
Patent information: Monsanto Technologies are protected under U.S. patent law. Monsanto licenses the Grower, under applicable patents owned or licensed by Monsanto, to use Monsanto Technologies subject to the conditions listed in this Agreement. This license does not authorize you to plant Seed in the United States that has been purchased in another country or plant Seed in another country that has been purchased in the United States.
Grower's rights may not be transferred to anyone else without the written consent of Monsanto. If Grower's rights are transferred with Monsanto's consent or by operation of law, this Agreement is binding on the person or entity receiving the transferred rights.
If Grower violates the terms of this Agreement, in addition to other remedies, Grower's rights pursuant to this Agreement will terminate immediately, and Grower and any entity owned or controlled by Grower forfeits any right to obtain an Agreement in the future and Grower's violation may result in infringement of one or more of the patents.
Grower agrees to pay Monsanto and the licensed Monsanto Technology provider(s) their attorneys' fees and costs of enforcing this Agreement. If the Agreement is terminated, Grower will no longer have a right to purchase or use Seed containing Monsanto Technologies. Any obligations that arose before termination will continue in effect. In the event that Grower saves, supplies, sells or acquires Seed for planting in violation of this Agreement, Grower will be liable to Monsanto for patent infringement. In addition, Grower agrees that Monsanto will suffer damages for breach of contract, that the measure of these damages is difficult to determine, and as a result Monsanto has the right to liquidated damages to recover Monsanto's losses as just compensation and not as a penalty that shall be equal to the gross revenue from such seed, grain, or fiber produced from infringing use of Seed (calculated based upon the Chicago Board of Trade price for the applicable grain/commodity as of August 1st of the year in question and the USDA stated U.S. average yield for such crop in any county Grower grows the crop for the year in question). Grower consents to Monsanto's review of Farm Service Agency crop reporting information on any land farmed by Grower including Forms 578 and corresponding aerial photographs, Risk Management Agency claim documentation, and dealer/retailer invoices for Grower's seed and chemical transactions. Grower agrees to allow Monsanto to examine and copy any of Grower's records and receipts that could be relevant to Grower's performance of this Agreement.
Grower acknowledges that grower has received a copy of Monsanto's TUG. To obtain additional copies of the Monsanto TUG, contact Monsanto at 1-800-7686387.
This Agreement will remain in effect until either you or Monsanto choose to terminate the Agreement. Once you enroll, information regarding new and existing Monsanto Technologies and any new terms will be mailed to you each year. Your continuing use of Monsanto Technologies after receipt of any new terms constitutes your agreement to be bound by the new terms. If any provision of this Agreement is determined to be void or unenforceable, the remaining provisions shall remain in full force and effect.
Grower accepts the terms of the following NOTICE REQUIREMENT, LIMITED WARRANTY AND EXCLUSIVE LIMITED REMEDY by signing this Agreement and/or opening a bag of seed containing Monsanto Technology. If Grower does not agree to be bound by the conditions of purchase or use, Grower agrees to return the unopened bags to Grower's seed dealer.
As a condition precedent to Grower or any other person with an interest in Grower's crop asserting any claim, action, or dispute against Monsanto and/or any seller of Seed containing Monsanto Technologies regarding performance or non-performance of Monsanto Technologies or the Seed in which it is contained, Grower must provide Monsanto a written, prompt, and timely notice (regarding performance or non-performance of the Monsanto Technologies) and to the seller of any Seed (regarding performance or non-performance of the Seed) within sufficient time to allow an in-field inspection of the crop(s) about which any controversy, claim, action, or dispute is being asserted. The notice will be timely only if it is delivered 15 days or less after the Grower first observes the issue(s) regarding performance or non-performance of the Monsanto Technology and/or the Seed in which it is contained. The notice shall include a statement setting forth the nature of the claim, name of the Monsanto Technology, and Seed hybrid or variety.
LIMITED WARRANTY AND DISCLAIMER OF WARRANTIES:
Monsanto warrants that the Monsanto Technologies licensed hereunder will perform as set forth in the TUG when used in accordance with directions. This warranty applies only to Monsanto Technologies contained in planting Seed that has been purchased from Monsanto and seed companies licensed by Monsanto or the seed company's authorized dealers or distributors. EXCEPT FOR THE EXPRESS WARRANTIES_ IN THE LIMITED WARRANTY SET FORTH ABOVE, MONSANTO MAKES NO OTHER WARRANTIES OF ANY KIND AND DISCLAIMS ALL OTHER WARRANTIES, WHETHER ORAL OR WRITTEN EXPRESS OR IMPLIED INCLUDING THE IMPLIED WARRANTIES-OF MERCHANTABILITY AND FITNESS FOR PARTICULAR PURPOSE.
EXCLUSIVE LIMITED REMEDY: THE EXCLUSIVE REMEDY OF THE GROWER AND THE LIMIT OF THE LIABILITY OF MONSANTO OR ANY SELLER FOR ANY AND ALL LOSSES, INJURY OR DAMAGES RESULTING FROM THE USE OR HANDLING OF SEED CONTAINING MONSANTO TECHNOLOGY (INCLUDING CLAIMS BASED IN CONTRACT, NEGLIGENCE, PRODUCT LIABILITY, STRICT LIABILITY, TORT, OR OTHERWISE) SHALL BE THE PRICE PAID BY THE GROWER FOR THE QUANTITY OF THE SEED INVOLVED OR, AT THE ELECTION OF MONSANTO OR THE SEED SELLER, THE REPLACEMENT OF THE SEED. IN NO EVENT SHALL MONSANTO OR ANY SELLER BE LIABLE FOR ANY INCIDENTAL, CONSEQUENTIAL, SPECIAL, OR PUNITIVE DAMAGES.
Thank you for choosing our advanced technologies. We look forward to working with you in the future. If you have any questions regarding the Monsanto Technologies, please call the Monsanto Customer Relations Center at: 1-800-ROUNDUP.
The licensed U.S. patents include: for YieldGard® Corn Borer corn - 5,484,956; 5,352,605; 5,538,877; 5,538,880; 5,359,142; 5,322,938; 5,164,316; 5,196,525; 5,424,412; 5,880,275; 5,859,347; 5,858,742; 5,593,874; 5,424,200; YieldGard® Corn Rootworm corn - 5,110,732; 6,174,724; 5,484,956; 5,352,605; 5,538,877; 5,538,880; 5,359,142; 5,322,938; 5,164,316; 5,196,525; 5,858,742; and 5,424,200.; for Roundup Ready® corn - 4,940,835; 5,188,642; 5,359,142; 5,196,525; 5,322,938; 5,164,316; 5,424,200; 5,858,742; 5,352,605; 5,538,877; 5,538,880; 5,554,798; 5,593,874; 5,859,347; 5,424,412; 5,633,4355. 5,804,425; 5627,061; 5,641,876; 5,717,084; 5,728,925; and 6,083,878; for Roundup Ready® soybeans - 4,940,835; 5,188,642; 5352,605 5,633,435; 5,530,196; 5,717,084; 57z8,925 5,627,061; 5,858,742 and 5,804,425; for Roundup Ready® cotton - 5,633,435; 5,352,605; 5,530,196; 5,188,642; 4,940,835 5,804,425, 6,051,753; 6,018,100; 5,378,619; 5,627,061; 5,858,742; 6,174,724; 5,159,135; 5,004,863; 5,728,925; 5717,084 and 6,083,878; for Bollgard® cotton - 5,424,200; 5,359,142; 5,352,605; 5,530,196; 5,322,938; 5,196,525; 5,164,316; 6,174,724; 5,880,275; 5,858,742; 5,159,135; and 5,004,863; for Bollgard® with Roundup Ready® cotton - 5,633,435; 5,424,200; 5,359,142; 5,352,605; 5,530,196; 5,322,938; 5,196,525; 5,188,642; 5,164,316; 4,940,835; 5,717,084; 5,728,925; 6,051,753; 6,018,100; 5,378,619; 5,627,061; 5,858,742; 6,174,724; 5,159,135; 5,004,863; 6,083,878; 5,880,275 and 5,804,425; for Bollgard® II cotton - 5,424,200; 5,359,142; 5,352,605; 5,530.196; 5,322,938; 5,196,525; 5,164,316; 6,174,724; 5,880,275; 5,858,742; 5,159,135; 5,004,863; 5,728,925; 5717,084; and 5,338,544; for Bollgard® II with Roundup Ready® cotton - 5,633,435; 5,424,200; 5,359,142; 5,352,605; 5,530,196; 5,322,938; 5,196,525; 5,188,642; 5164,316; 4,940,835; 5,717,084; 5,728,925; 6,051,753; 6,018,100; 5,378,619; 5,627,061; 5,858,742; 6,174,724; 5,159,135; 5,004,863; 6,083,878; 5,880,275; 5,804,425; and 5,338,544 for Roundup Ready® canola - 6,051,753; 6,018,100; 5,378,619; 5,728,925; 5,776,760; 5,717,084; 5,804,425; 5,633,435; 5,627,061; 5,188,642; 4,940,835; 5,463,175; and 6,083,878 ; and for Roundup Ready® sugarbeets - 5,378,619; 5,463,175; 5,776,760; 5,627,061; 5,633,435; 5,164,316; 5,196,525; 5,322,938; 5,359,142; 5,424,200; 5,352,605 5530,196; 4,940,835; 5,188,642; 5717,084; 5,728,925; 6,018,100; 6,051,753; 6,083,878 and 5,804,425; for tank mix-6,239,o72. Please call 1-800-ROUNDUP if you have any questions concerning this license.
ALWAYS READ AND FOLLOW PESTICIDE LABEL DIRECTIONS. Roundup® agricultural herbicides will kill crops that do not contain the Roundup Ready® gene. Roundup®, Roundup Ready®, Bollgard®, YieldGard®, and the Vine Symbol are trademarks of Monsanto Technology LLC Roundup Rewards`- is a servicemark of Monsanto Technology LLC® 2001 Monsanto Company. Roundup Rewards applies only to Roundup branded and other specified Monsanto agricultural herbicides.
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