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Scientists working for Swiss food giant Novartis have developed and patented a method for "switching off" the immune systems of plant.

Scientists working for Swiss food giant Novartis have developed and patented a method for "switching off" the immune systems of plants.

This new discovery has caused the outrage of environmentalists and Third World charities who believe that this new biotechnology is the most dangerous use so far of genetic engineering.

Patents filed by Norvatis, the manufacturers of Ovaltine, reveal that its scientists expect to be able to use the radical biotechnology for almost every crop on Earth.

Novartis claims that the new use of genetic engineering will give farmers greater control over disease and boost production. But critics insist that it will make Third World farmers dependent on buying the company's chemicals each year to produce healthy harvests.

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