R.G. McDaniel, a University of Arizona plant geneticist, holds a patent on a flowering plant that grows in Arizona. The plant produces a "natural insecticide" that is lethal to insects yet is relatively safe for consumption by humans and warm-blooded mammals. Meanwhile, in Independence, Oreg., Krishen Bhat, the vice president for research at an agricultural company called Botanical Resources--a subsidiary of John I. Haas Co., the major hops refinery in the United States--is hurriedly working to cultivate his company's patented species of the same flower, which has been adapted to grow in California.

What these two scientists are independently trying to do with the plant in question, Chrysanthemum cinerariaefolium, commonly known as pyrethrum, is to eventually grow large enough quantities of this natural insecticide-producer--at least 10,000 pounds per year--to create a viable American crop amenable to mechanical harvesting. While America uses 75 percent of the world's supply of pyrethrum, U.S....

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