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Two of the major powers in the use of CRISPR-Cas9 in agriculture have reached a surprising arrangement that could accelerate the creation of genome-edited crops, giving companies a way to more easily license the intellectual property they need to make drought- or bug-resistant plants without worrying about being sued for patent infringement.

The agreement, announced on Wednesday and in effect immediately, is between the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, which holds dozens of key (but disputed) patents on the CRISPR genome-editing technology, and DuPont Pioneer, a major producer of genetically modified seeds. Pioneer licensed exclusive rights to agricultural uses of CRISPR from Caribou Biosciences, a spinoff of the University of California, Berkeley, and a second company, ERS Genomics. UC, Caribou, and ERS are allied in a heated patent fight against the Broad.

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