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Jun 30

TSTA Weekly Update, 06/30/2022

Weekly Update from the Texas Seed Trade Association
Member News
No Weekly Update last week. We hope you missed this newsletter last week. TSTA staff took a brief vacation trip to Port Aransas. We're back and so is the Weekly Update.
The TSTA Board of Directors will hold a meeting beginning July 18, at Horseshoe Bay Resort. Among agenda items is updating the TSTA strategic plan, review of staff performance, Review of board performance, membership outreach & engagement, and winter growouts. If you have items you feel need to be considered by the board please contact a board member or reply to this issue of the Weekly Update and TSTA staff will pass them along.
Dietrich Knauth and Lawrence Hurley, Reuters
WASHINGTON - The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday rejected another Bayer AG (BAYGn.DE) bid to dismiss litigation alleging that its Roundup weedkiller causes cancer as the German pharmaceutical and chemical giant tries to avoid potentially billions of dollars in damages.
The justices turned away a Bayer appeal and left in place a lower court decision upholding an $87 million judgment awarded in a lawsuit in California to Alberta and Alva Pilliod, who were diagnosed with cancer after spraying Roundup for more than three decades. The Supreme Court on June 21 rejected a Bayer appeal in a different Roundup case.
Bayer has argued that the cancer claims over Roundup and its active ingredient glyphosate go against sound science and product clearance from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Bayer's appeal in the Pilliod case raised an additional challenge, arguing that it would violate the U.S. Constitution's due process protections to award punitive damages that far outweigh compensatory damages.
While Bayer had hoped for a Supreme Court ruling that would stop lawsuits over the weedkiller, the company "continues to stand fully behind its Roundup" and is prepared to defend the product in court, company spokesperson Phillip Blank said.
The company will only consider resolving outstanding current cases and claims if it is strategically advantageous to do so," Blank said in a statement.
Bayer will look for future opportunities to brings its preemption argument before the Supreme Court, and it cited a case now before the Atlanta-based 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals as one possible route for a future appeal.
To read the entire report click here.
In the meantime Bayer won their fourth case in a row receiving a verdict by an Oregon court that glyphosate was not responsible for the plaintiff's cancer.
Editor's Note: Bayer is a valued member of the Texas Seed Trade Association
In an effort to update and maintain our membership records we request you take a few moments and fill out the very brief info request at the following link.
The link is secure and the information will be used internally by the Texas Seed Trade Association and never shared without your permission. This request is on behalf of your association's board of directors and officers and we greatly appreciate your cooperation. Thank you!
6/30/22 - If you have not updated your information please take a moment and do so now. We appreciate it! We continue to update this database and need your input!
If you are a certified wheat seed producer and have an interest in participating in re-certification procedures this season please contact Jerrett Stork, Certified Seed Coordinator, Texas Department of Agriculture, at the Giddings Seed Lab as soon as possible. Jarrett can be reached at 979-542-3691. Plan on contacting your local TDA inspector concurrently as it may expedite the process.
American Seed Trade Association (ASTA) news release
The American Seed Trade Association (ASTA) elected its 2022-23 officer team during the association's all-new Leadership Summit, June 25 - 29 in Indianapolis.
The members of the 2022-23 ASTA officer team are:
• Chair: Jim Schweigert, Gro Alliance, LLC
• First Vice Chair: David Armstrong, Sakata Seed America
• Second Vice Chair: Dan Foor, La Crosse Seed
Newly-elected Regional Vice Presidents are: Bryan Gerard, JoMar Seeds (Central); and Luke Turner, Turner Seed Co. (Southern). The new ASTA leadership team will begin official duties on July 1.
In his acceptance remarks, incoming Chair Jim Schweigert outlined his top priorities for the association over the next 12 months. First, he committed to increasing engagement with the next generation of seed industry innovators. "The recent influx of investments in the seed industry, both in terms of capital and ideas, is pushing the boundaries of what's possible in breeding, on-seed chemistry, channels to market and new business models," said Schweigert. "This is not the time to be on the sidelines, as policy will be made by those in the game."
Second, he prioritized the importance of taking an actionable and holistic approach to sustainability-expanding the definition beyond just environmental considerations, to incorporating business practices that ensure a healthy and diverse seed industry. "When it comes to sustainability, it's important that more crop species are part of the conversation, and soil, water, grain composition and yield are all factored into the equation," he said. "We need to continue efforts to explore new ways to partner with farmers in building a resilient, safe and abundant supply of food, fuel, feed and fiber for the world."
A third-generation seedsman, Schweigert is the president of Gro Alliance, the largest independently-owned contract corn and soybean seed production company in North America. The company is also a leader in custom corn breeding and seed corn nursery services in the U.S. and in Chile where it operates through its joint venture, CIS Alliance. He also serves as a board advisor for ZeaKal.
Having worked for corporate public relations firms in Minneapolis, Chicago and Atlanta after growing up in the family seed business, Schweigert's unique background and experience make him one of the seed industry's leaders in innovation. He was honored as the 2009 recipient of Seed World magazine's "Future Giant" and served as the regional vice president to Canada for the executive board of ASTA and the Canadian Seed Trade Association from 2009-2015 and again from 2017 to 2020. He also served as the chair of the non-profit, Seed Programs International from 2012-2016 and continues to serve on its board of directors.
Schweigert has a BA in public relations from the University of Minnesota and an MS in seed technology and business from Iowa State.
News Bits
U.S. corn and soybean condition ratings declined last week as hot, dry weather in many key growing areas impacted crops. Temperatures in most of the region have been mild to start the week, but could turn hot again ahead of July 4th weekend, and some areas need rain.
The USDA says 67% of corn is rated good to excellent, 3% less than a week ago, and 4% of the crop is in good to excellent condition, matching the five-year average.
65% of soybeans are in good to excellent shape, down 3%, with 98% of the crop planted, compared to 97% on average, 91% emerged, in-line with the normal pace, and 7% blooming, compared to 11% on average.
30% of U.S. winter wheat is in good to excellent condition, unchanged, while 95% of the crop has headed, compared to the five-year average of 98%, and 41% has been harvested, compared to 35% normally in late June.
59% of spring wheat is called good to excellent, steady with a week ago, and 98% has emerged, compared to 99% on average, with 8% of the crop headed, compared to the usual rate of 34%.
37% of cotton is reported as good to excellent, down 3% on the week, with 33% of the crop squaring, compared to 33% on average, and 8% setting bolls, compared to the five-year average of 7%.
73% of the rice crop is called good to excellent, 1% higher, and 10% has headed, compared to 9% on average.
31% of U.S. pastures and rangelands are in good to excellent condition, unchanged from the week before.
Farmland prices continue to soar, as a new record Iowa land sale occurred in Dubuque County, Iowa last week with High Point Land Company auctioning off 60 acres for $30,000 per acre.
With the financial stakes so high, who can afford to make these big money moves?
Amassed with a newly purchased 2,100-acre farm in North Dakota, Bill Gates' Red River Trust now holds the title of a cool 270,000 acres of land across the U.S.
By Jenna Hoffman,
It's no secret owning a farm is more than a full-time job. In my experience, when there are young kids on the operation, elders can put some of the most grueling farm chores on the "young and able-bodied" to-do list.
Whatever your rose and thorn are when it comes to childhood farm chores, your least favorite task likely relates to chopping weeds in bean fields or picking up rocks.
That's according to our recent poll that asked: What is one childhood farm chore you do NOT miss?
Here are the top results from more than 1,250 votes:
• Chopping weeds in soybean fields: 25%
• Picking up rocks: 20%
• Hauling in square straw/hay bales: 16%
Lower-ranking chores might surprise you:
• Cleaning grain bins: 8%
• Weeding the family garden: 7%
• Fixing fence: 5%
• Power washing the barn: 3%
Crow's Seed is being re-launched in the Eastern Corn Belt, by Outward Ag, LLC. Driven by a team of agricultural entrepreneurs, this follows the re-establishment of Midwest Seed Genetics in the Central and Northern Corn Belt and NC+ in the West. Over the past four years, Midwest, and NC+ have been two of the fastest growing seed brands in U.S. row crop agriculture.
Crow's Hybrids, originally from Milford, IL, was one of the pioneering hybrid seed brands, launched in 1935. Over six decades, it provided strong performing seed through strong local relationships. In the late 1990s, Don Funk acquired Crow's and turned this local company into a regional powerhouse. Crow's became a key foundational brand that spurred the record-setting growth of Channel, subsequently acquired by Monsanto, now Bayer.
Roughly 70 percent of public agricultural research and development (R&D) in the United States is performed by universities and other nonfederal cooperating institutions. Land-grant universities alone account for about half of all public agricultural R&D spending. State forestry schools, veterinary schools, and historically black colleges and universities account for most of the remaining agricultural R&D conducted at nonfederal institutions.
State land-grant universities and agricultural experiment stations primarily perform research on topics of interest to their State or region, though this research has a national impact in the form of training scientists and generating basic scientific insights. USDA agencies such as the Agricultural Research Service and Forest Service perform the other 30 percent of public agricultural research, focusing on national and regional topics.
Agri-Pulse reports:
The Food and Drug Administration has given its green light to a genetically modified wheat from Argentine-based Bioceres Crop Solutions to be drought resistant, but the controversial biotech grain still needs to go through lengthy approvals by USDA and EPA before it can be commercialized, says a spokesman for U.S. Wheat Associates.
"The finding by the FDA is not an approval for this or any other transgenic wheat to be planted for commercial sale in the United States," USW and the National Association of Wheat Growers said in a statement. "Bioceres recently announced it will seek approval to plant HB4 wheat in Australia, but it has not announced plans to commercialize the trait in the United States."
Brazil last year approved imports of flour made from HB4 wheat that is being grown and harvested in Argentina.
The U.S. wheat sector is heavily dependent on the ability to export and remains concerned that the commercialization of biotech wheat could result in the loss of foreign markets in countries like Japan and South Korea.
To read U.S. Wheat Associates and the National Wheat Growers Association's joint statement click here.
By Maria Kalaitzandonakes and Jonathan Coppess, Department of Agricultural and Consumer Economics,, University of Illinois and Brenna Ellison, Department of Agricultural Economics, Purdue University
The public's suggested allocations differ considerably from actual allocations of the USDA budget. In particular, the public allocated much less to food assistance than is spent on the category, as mandated by Congress. The USDA currently spends 65% of its total budget on food assistance (USDA, 2021). Other categories differ considerably as well. For example, research and education makes up about 2.3% of the 2021 USDA budget while food safety and inspection comprises less than 1% (USDA, 2021).
Other studies have also investigated the public's perceptions of and preferences for USDA spending. Ellison and Lusk (2011) asked consumers the same budget allocation question in 2009; consumers in our 2022 survey preferred to allocate about $10 less, on average, to food safety and inspection and re-allocated those funds across the other budget categories. The categories that received the largest gains were farm support and rural development. Ellison and Lusk (2011) also found that informing consumers of the actual USDA budget allocations altered their allocations slightly, yet the public's allocations remained far from actual spending. More recently, Lusk and Polzin (2022) asked consumers whether they would like to see more, less, or the same amount of funding for each USDA budget category. In general, over 1/3 of consumers wanted to see more spending for each category, with food safety and inspection receiving the largest share of support for increased spending (53%).
To read full article, click here
Raquel Chan: Discovering the gene behind GM wheat
By Luis Ventura in Alliance for Science
Argentina’s genetically modified, drought-tolerant wheat is making headlines around the world. Though it’s been ready for a couple of years now, the global grain crisis and resulting food shortages caused by Russia’s war against Ukraine have brought it into prominence.
The Alliance for Science had a chance to talk with Dr. Raquel Chan, the Argentinian lead scientist who launched the GM wheat journey 16 years ago. A biochemist who specializes in plant biotechnology, Chan is director of the Agrobiotechnology Institute of Santa Fe (IAL) and senior researcher at the National Scientific and Technical Research Council CONICET.
She is also a member of the National Academy of Sciences and has been recognized by the BBC as one of the 10 outstanding scientists in Latin American.
The GM wheat journey started with Chan studying and analyzing sunflowers, which resulted in the discovery of the HB4 gene. Its patent was licensed to Bioceres Crop Solutions, the Argentinian company seeking to bring GM wheat to international markets.
“We found that sunflower plants are very adaptable to variable external conditions. We decided to use it as a scientific model because, in addition to its performance in the initial research, we found that one, its ‘no-watering’ period is longer than other plants; two, there was a chance to receive funds to support the research due to its economic importance; and three, we already had access to the library of sunflower cDNA, thanks to IBMP-Strasbourg,” Chan recalls.
Once Chan and her team secured funding to continue their investigation, they started to study the sunflower’s DNA and identified the function of fundamental genes.
“One of the experimental strategies we used was to isolate the genes one at a time and introduce them into plant species that do not have them. In this case, we used Arabidopsis thaliana, which is a model of dicotyledons without agronomic utility. Once the gene was introduced, we observed and reported the behavior of the recipient plant in the face of the stress that is induced in the research — in this case, drought-tolerance. We saw that of several introduced genes, HaHB4 (Helianthus annuus Homeobox 4) conferred a lot of drought tolerance.”
At this point in their research, Chan’s team realized the HB4 gene was the reason why the sunflower’s “no-watering period” was longer than other plants. After successfully transferring the drought-resistant trait to the model organism, they started to analyze its application in agriculture and the transformation of various crops.
“The potential of using the HB4 gene in crops is huge,” Chan said. “It is already developed in wheat and soybeans, which are very important crops for the world’s food. I think it could be applied to other crops with expectations of good results and further expand the potential at the national and international level.”
In the development of any GM product, the laboratory research is just the beginning. In addition to facing scientific challenges, the GM variety must go through the biosafety regulatory process to achieve the environmental release needed for commercial cultivation.
“The regulatory process is long, requiring many trials and demonstrations in different locations and during several campaigns,” Chan explained. “It must be shown that the GMO in question does not impact the environment or animal or human health in comparison to the crop from which it comes.”
Once the GM wheat was approved by Argentina, several countries recognized as world leaders in the grain market, such as Brazil and China, expressed interest in the novel crop. It is currently being considered for cultivation in the United States and Australia.
If these agricultural giants approve GM wheat, it may join cotton, corn and soybean as the most cultivated GM crops in the world.
GM wheat also offers an example of how national research centers and small companies with adequate funding can enter the global GM market by discovering genes of agronomic importance and applying them to crops.
Due to an adequate regulatory framework in most territories, Latin America is emerging as a biotechnology leader. Is it likely that climate-resilient gene-edited crops will soon find their way into farmers’ fields?
“In the case of edited crops, there are still no field-proven developments, that I know of, that improve productivity or stress response,” Chan said. “There is a lot of literature on developments, but there is still nothing repeated in the field with great advantages. It is one thing to do it in the laboratory or greenhouse tests and another to repeat tests in the field in different environments.”
In other words, she said, it will take some more research time before gene editing technology can confer the traits that improve climate resiliency. Chan also anticipates that gene editing will be used to develop crops with other useful traits.
“It is difficult to predict discoveries and developments, but I believe that gene editing will allow obtaining crops with nutritional or organoleptic [affecting or relating to qualities such as a food’s taste, color, odor and feel] improvements by manipulating known metabolic pathways,” Chan noted.
Rare ‘triple’ La Niña climate event looks likely — what does the future hold?
Meteorologists are forecasting a third consecutive year of La Niña. Some researchers say similar conditions could become more common as the planet warms.
by Nicola Jones in Nature
Editor's Note: Continuing La Niña conditions are largely responsible for the current drought conditions across most of Texas. Looks like relief may be a bit farther away than we'd hoped.
An ongoing La Niña event that has contributed to flooding in eastern Australia and exacerbated droughts in the United States and East Africa could persist into 2023, according to the latest forecasts. The occurrence of two consecutive La Niña winters in the Northern Hemisphere is common, but having three in a row is relatively rare. A ‘triple dip’ La Niña — lasting three years in a row — has happened only twice since 1950.
This particularly long La Niña is probably just a random blip in the climate, scientists say. But some researchers are warning that climate change could make La Niña-like conditions more likely in future. “We are stacking the odds higher for these triple events coming along,” says Matthew England, a physical oceanographer at the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia. England and others are now working to reconcile discrepancies between climate data and the output of major climate models — efforts that could clarify what is in store for the planet.
More La Niña events would increase the chance of flooding in southeast Asia, boost the risk of droughts and wildfires in the southwestern United States, and create a different pattern of hurricanes, cyclones and monsoons across the Pacific and Atlantic oceans, as well as give rise to other regional changes.
La Niña and its counterpart, El Niño, are phases of the El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) that occur every two to seven years, with neutral years in between. During El Niño events, the usual Pacific winds that blow east to west along the Equator weaken or reverse, causing warm water to gush into the eastern Pacific Ocean, increasing the amount of rain in the region. During La Niña, those winds strengthen, warm water shifts west and the eastern Pacific becomes cooler and drier.
The impacts are far reaching. “The tropical Pacific is huge. If you shift its rainfall, it has a ripple effect on the rest of the world,” says Michelle L’Heureux, a physical scientist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Climate Prediction Centre in College Park, Maryland. During La Niña years, the ocean absorbs heat into its depths, so global air temperatures tend to be cooler.
Cold snap
The current La Niña started around September 2020 and has been mild-to-moderate most of the time since then. As of April 2022, it intensified, leading to a cold snap over the eastern equatorial Pacific Ocean not seen at that time of year since 1950. “That’s pretty impressive,” says England.
The latest forecast from the World Meteorological Organization, issued on 10 June, gives a 50–60% chance of La Niña persisting until July or September. This will probably increase Atlantic hurricane activity, which buffets eastern North America until November, and decrease the Pacific hurricane season, which mainly affects Mexico. NOAA’s Climate Prediction Centre has forecast a 51% chance of La Niña in early 2023.
The weird thing about it, says L’Heureux, is that this prolonged La Niña, unlike previous triple dips, hasn’t come after a strong El Niño, which tends to build up a lot of ocean heat that takes a year or two to dissipate1. “I keep wondering, where’s the dynamics for this?” says L’Heureux.
Climate correlation
The big questions that remain are whether climate change is altering the ENSO, and whether La Niña conditions will become more common in future.
Researchers have noticed a shift in the ENSO in recent decades: the latest report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) shows that strong El Niño and La Niña events have been more frequent and stronger since 1950 than they were in the centuries before that, but the panel couldn’t tell whether this was caused by natural variability or by climate change. Overall, the IPCC models indicate a shift to more El Niño-like states as climate change warms the oceans, says climate modeller Richard Seager at the Lamont–Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University in Palisades, New York. Puzzlingly, Seager says, observations have shown the opposite over the past half-century: as the climate has warmed, a tongue of upwelling waters in the eastern equatorial Pacific Ocean has stayed cold, creating more La Niña-like conditions2.
Some researchers argue that the record is simply too sparse to show clearly what is going on, or that there is too much natural variability in the system for researchers to spot long-term trends. But it could also be that the IPCC models are missing something big, says L’Heureux, “which is a more serious issue”.
Seager thinks the models are indeed wrong, and that the planet will experience more La Niña-like patterns in future3. “More and more people are taking this a bit seriously that maybe the models are biased,” because they don’t capture this cold eastern Pacific water, says Seager.
Cold-water injection
England has another possible explanation for why the IPCC models could be getting future La Niña-like conditions wrong. As the world warms and the Greenland ice sheet melts, its fresh cold water is expected to slow down a dominant conveyor belt of ocean currents: the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC). Scientists mostly agree that the AMOC current has slowed down in recent decades4, but don’t agree on why, or how much it will slow in future.
In a study published in Nature Climate Change on 6 June5, England and his colleagues model how an AMOC collapse would leave an excess of heat in the tropical South Atlantic, which would trigger a series of air-pressure changes that ultimately strengthen the Pacific trade winds. These winds push warm water to the west, thus creating more La Niña-like conditions. But England says that the current IPCC models don’t reflect this trend because they don’t include the complex interactions between ice-sheet melt, freshwater injections, ocean currents and atmospheric circulation. “We keep adding bells and whistles to these models. But we need to add in the ice sheets,” he says.
Michael Mann, a climatologist at Pennsylvania State University in State College, has also argued2 that climate change will both slow the AMOC and create more La Niña-like conditions. He says the study shows how these two factors can reinforce each other. Getting the models to better reflect what’s going on in the ocean, says Seager, “remains a very active research topic”.
“We need to better understand what’s going on,” agrees L’Heureux. For now, she adds, whether, how and why the ENSO might change “is a very interesting mystery”.
Source: National Association of Farm Broadcasting blog
The Environmental Protection Agency and the Army Corps of Engineers conclude a series of roundtables this week gathering stakeholder thoughts on changing the Waters of the U.S. Rule. Courtney Briggs, American Farm Bureau Federation Senior Director of Government Affairs, says the goal of these events was to find regional differences.
"The roundtables are wrapping up this week and there are ten in total. The point of these roundtables is to talk about the regional differences as it pertains to WOTUS because WOTUS plays out very differently based on what region of the country are in."
Briggs says, however, the discussions won't be considered in the rulemaking process.
"There's been some roundtables that have been very well balanced and have brought different perspectives to the table to talk about regional differences, but there certainly have been some that have been very one-sided. And those have been concerning because they have failed to bring to the table a mainstream agricultural representative. But one of the biggest concerns is the agencies have stated that they are not going to use these roundtables as part of the regulatory process, and it really begs the question, what is the point of these roundtables?"
Briggs says the rulemaking process continues, but the Supreme Court will weigh in soon.
"We expect that the agencies will release a finalized rule at some point this calendar year, but all attention is now turning to the Supreme Court, and they have announced that they will hear oral arguments in Sackett vs. EPA on October 3, so that will be the first case that they will hear next session, and that case has the potential to provide a lot of clarity and certainty for the regulated community."
More information on WOTUS can be found at
Other EPA news:
Fox News reports
Supreme Court deals Biden climate agenda serious blow with EPA decision
The Supreme Court dealt a significant blow to the Biden administration’s climate change agenda, ruling Thursday that the Environmental Protection Agency cannot pass sweeping regulations that could overhaul entire industries without additional congressional approval.
The 6-3 decision limits how far the executive branch can go in forcing new environmental regulations on its own.
"Capping carbon dioxide emissions at a level that will force a nationwide transition away from the use of coal to generate electricity may be a sensible ‘solution to the crisis of the day,’" Chief Justice John Roberts said in the Court's opinion. "But it is not plausible that Congress gave EPA the authority to adopt on its own such a regulatory scheme in Section 111(d). A decision of such magnitude and consequence rests with Congress itself, or an agency acting pursuant to a clear delegation from that representative body."
The case stemmed from the Obama administration’s 2015 Clean Power Plan which aimed to reduce carbon emissions at power plants. The plan was blocked by the Supreme Court in 2016, and then repealed by the Trump administration and replaced by the less extreme Affordable Clean Energy (ACE) Rule. 
After President Biden took office, the ACE Rule became the subject of litigation that led to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals vacating that rule as well as the repeal of the Clean Power Plan. The Biden EPA, however, has stated that it will not reinstate the Clean Power Plan, opting instead to develop and implement its own plan.
The question of how much power the EPA has was based on a provision in Section 111 of the Clean Air Act, which grants the EPA power to set "standards of performance" for existing sources of air pollutants as long as they take into account cost, energy requirements, and non-air health and environmental impacts
The Trump EPA, in repealing the Clean Power Plan, took the position that Section 111 only let them determine measures to be implemented at the physical power plants themselves (an "inside-the-fence-line" restriction) and not broadly-applied measures for entire industries.
Similarly, West Virginia and other states claimed that Section 111 does not allow the EPA to go so far as to make rules that would completely reshape American electrical grids or force industries to eliminate carbon emissions altogether. 
West Virginia’s argument is based on the "major questions doctrine," which says that even though federal agencies generally have broad rule-making power as delegated by Congress through the statutes that create them, when it comes to issues of major economic and political significance to the country those statutes need to have clear language to support the agency’s action.
Without clear language, they would need new legislation that specifically grants them the power to carry out their actions.
The Biden EPA claimed that the major questions doctrine did not apply in this case, arguing that there was no issue of such great significance. During oral arguments, Solicitor General Elizabeth Prelogar asserted that there cannot be a major question because there is no current rule in place. 
Additionally, the administration argued that there is no major question because the U.S. ended up meeting the Obama administration’s carbon goals even without the Clean Power Plan in place.
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