China is vowing to crackdown on the illegal planting of GMO crops after it was revealed that a spy stole millions of dollars’ worth of proprietary corn seeds produced by DuPont Pioneer and Monsanto.

The Chinese-born U.S. citizen, Mo Hailong, has confessed to leading a group that swiped the seeds. Mo had been the director of Dabeinong Technology (DBN) Group, a Beijing-based agricultural tech firm, and is also the brother-in-law of the company’s founder.

A two-year investigation resulted in Mo’s arrest in 2013. A DuPont security guard had spotted him crawling around an experimental research field in Iowa. Mo initially escaped, but was later tracked down using a search of rental car companies. Four months later, someone called 911 after seeing Mo examining an unmarked Monsanto GM-cornfield in another part of Iowa.

That resulted in the 2-year investigation, which involved FBI wiretaps and video surveillance. The investigation started to wrap up in 2012, when a number of Mo’s co-conspirators were found by U.S. customs to be attempting to transport hundreds of cryptically-numbered manila envelopes containing some of the seeds, which were hidden among large boxes of microwavable popcorn and wrapped in napkins from a Subway restaurant.

In all, Mo stole between $30 million and $40 million worth of seeds, which were considered proprietary intellectual property.

Mo accepted a plea agreement, cutting his prison time from 10 years to 5. The deal will give prosecutors access to farms in Iowa and Illinois that Mo had used to reverse-engineer the stolen seeds. Under the plea bargain, Mo could be deported after serving his prison term, even though his children are American citizens.

Mo’s lawyer, Mark Weinhardt, said in a statement:

“[Mo and] his family are relieved that they can avoid the strain of a long and complex trial. This is a complicated case with many grey areas, legally and factually, but today… Mo takes complete responsibility for his unlawful conduct in this case.” [1]

We reported on January 12 that the environmental group Greenpeace had discovered that farmers in northeast China were growing genetically modified corn that was not approved for cultivation. While China has spent billions of dollars to develop GMO crops to feed its 1.4 billion citizens, the commercial cultivation of GMO crops has not yet been approved, and most people in that country oppose genetically engineered foods.

Currently, the only GMO crop approved for use in China is soybeans, which can only be used as animal feed.

The Chinese government has said it will continue to promote GM technology, while vowing to crackdown on the illegal planting of GMO crops.

“The new round of agricultural scientific and technological revolution and industrial revolution is underway. As a big country with a population of 1.3 billion, China should not lag behind in the field of agricultural biotechnology. Therefore, we put forward in the first policy document of this year that we should do more research on agricultural GMO technology,” said Han Jun, deputy director of China’s Central Rural Work Leading Group Office.

“Supervision is the most important. We must keep it under strict supervision in three fields: research and development tests, variety certification, and production and distribution. We must prevent those unapproved genetically modified seeds from entering the market illegally,” he said.

Han has promised nervous Chinese citizens that all GMO foods will be labeled, so they know exactly what they are eating. [2]

Sources:

[1] Vice

[2] Genetic Literacy Project

Mo Hailong image sourced from America.Aljazeera // America Tonight


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Post written byJulie Fidler:
Julie Fidler is a freelance writer, legal blogger, and the author of Adventures in Holy Matrimony: For Better or the Absolute Worst. She lives in Pennsylvania with her husband and two ridiculously spoiled cats. She occasionally pontificates on her blog.