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St Louis Business Journal February 21, 2003

Tennessee man pleads guilty of stealing Monsanto seed

A man from Tennessee has pleaded guilty to conspiring to defraud Monsanto Co. by stealing patented cottonseed. Kem Ralph of Covington, Tenn., pleaded guilty to a one count information charge of conspiracy to commit mail fraud. He faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison and/or a $250,000 fine, and is scheduled to be sentenced May 7. Restitution is mandatory. The value of the loss as a result of his conduct is $165,649.

The U.S. Attorney's Office said Friday that in 1999, a friend of Ralph's grew a cotton crop using Monsanto's cottonseed containing Roundup Ready and Bollgard traits. The seed was sold pursuant to technology agreements that prohibited the seed from being used for later planting. Following the 1999 harvest of the cotton, a truckload of cottonseed was extracted from the harvest and transported to a company in Kennett, Mo.

The cottonseed was treated and bagged for replanting in the 2000 growing season, in violation of the technology agreement. Ralph mailed documentation to the company that the seed belonged to him in order to conceal the transaction from Monsanto, the U.S. Attorney's Office said. St. Louis-based Monsanto Co. (NYSE: MON) develops insect- and herbicide-resistant crops and other agricultural products. 2003 American City Business Journals Inc.

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