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Delegates from 116 nations have agreed on a landmark treaty intended to ease exchange of seed collections held in the world's agricultural ‘gene banks’.

The United States and Japan were the sole holdouts, both abstaining from a final vote taken 3 November in Rome.

The agreement, formally known as the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources, mandates the free exchange among plant breeders of seeds from 35 crops, including major cereals such as rice, wheat and corn.

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Source: Science 294, 1273 (2001)