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US nonprofits sue over patent to feed hungry

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CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (AP) — Two American nonprofits say a patent held by a French firm is keeping them from making high-protein products to help feed starving people around the world.

Texas-based Breedlove Foods and the Mama Cares Foundation in California are suing Nutriset in federal court, saying its patent is too restrictive and blocks their plans to develop nut-based pastes to help malnourished children.

Nutriset spokesman Remi Vallet (REM’-ee Val-LAY’) says Nutriset hasn’t seen the lawsuit.

But he defends the company’s patent on Plumpy’nut paste. The peanut butter-like substance is widely used by humanitarian groups in places like Darfur.

Vallet says the patent allows Nutriset to control quality while licensing production in developing nations, thus creating jobs and feeding the hungry.