Biotech Firm in High-Nicotine Intrigue

Science  16 Jan 1998:
Vol. 279, Issue 5349, pp. 317
DOI: 10.1126/science.279.5349.317

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A small biotech company was named last week as a conspirator with an unidentified tobacco company in an alleged scheme to produce a high-nicotine tobacco plant. In a "criminal information" filed on 7 January in Washington, D.C., the U.S. Department of Justice accused DNA Plant Technology Inc. of Oakland, California, of surreptitiously shipping seeds of a tobacco plant called Y-1--a strain that has twice the nicotine content (6%) of normal tobacco--to Brazilian growers during the 1980s. The investigation could undermine a proposed moratorium on lawsuits against cigarette firms to be reviewed in Congress later this year.