Saturday, December 14, 2013

Seed Espionage

"DES MOINES, Iowa -- A corporate agriculture espionage case announced Thursday by federal prosecutors offered a glimpse into how at least seven Chinese men allegedly traveled across the Midwest to steal millions of dollars in seed technology.

The investigation revealed how the men used counter-surveillance techniques to shake FBI tails, but still had the seeds confiscated by law enforcement authorities as they tried to leave the country.

Mo Hailong, also known as Robert Mo, is accused of stealing trade secrets worth at least $30 million to $40 million, said Nicholas Klinefeldt, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Iowa. It's the first corporate agriculture espionage case of its kind in Iowa, officials said.

"The point is to call people out on this type of activity," Klinefeldt said. "So that people know about it, and so companies can take the right precautions to prevent it from happening again."

Mo, the only person charged or arrested, used an alias to tour DuPont Pioneer's headquarters in Johnston, Iowa, and Monsanto's research facility in Ankeny. He also attend a state dinner in which Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad welcomed Xi Jinping, the then-future president of China, back to the Iowa. Mo and others often met at farm in Illinois bought by Kings Nower Seed, a Chinese seed company for which they were spying, court documents show."

My thinking is this kind of thing is going to progress as we learn what really is good food and how to do we produce it?  We are into a whole new realm of technology with more mouths to feed. 

How do we best do that?  Each one is going to have his own idea on that but for me, I need to produce the highest quality non GMO food products I can produce at the lowest cost.  I need to market those products for what they are really worth because me dumping a healthy, pure non GMO into the local generic soybean seed pile is money and effort wasted.

I am not surprised to see this, other countries have been "stealing" our technology and ideas for a long time time and reproducing them at a lower cost than we can.  They don't end up with the same quality, but the world economy doesn't seem to matter.

What do you think?

Ed Winkle


  1. I think that if someone wants to own the patent on a life form, then they should also make sure it cannot reproduce on it's own.

  2. "they should also make sure it cannot reproduce on it's own"
    I think that's the whole point of stealing the seeds, to make sure that they CAN reproduce on their own. Much easier to just grow existing genetically engineered seeds than to try introducing the desired genes from scratch, even if you have stolen the full blueprints too. No lab of highly paid geneticists required and years of research, only one season and a couple of farmers who won't even know that what they grow is genetically engineered.

    Probably also a matter of survival for China: I don't know if it's global warming or what, but they have been experiencing serious droughts recently, and a drought resistance trait would really make the difference in their agriculture. No excuse for stealing, though, even if all commercially grown crops are "stolen" from their native countries where they had centuries of selection behind them. Did we pay these farmers for their awesome job?

  3. And good luck to Interpol catching the thieves now that China has escaped and landed on thee Moon!

  4. Sitting at the farm show last week I ran across a couple guys who had been growing nongmo beans and not selling them for a premium.....

    One mixed them in with his rr beans.....

    One was really happy to talk to me.

  5. Interesting comments! The news caught me off guard but shouldn't surprise any of us. Some saw something they wanted and figured out a way to try and get it. It looks like it failed somewhat to me.

    Brad, a lot of us do a lot of things we could do better! Selling non GMO seed for a premium is just one example but it's pretty amazing, isn't it?

    This one of the most unusual news pieces I've read in awhile.