Jan 18, 2020
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On Dec. 12, 2013, the U.S. government charged six Chinese nationals with conspiracy to steal trade secrets from several major seed companies. Read the full account below.



Crouched on his hands and knees under an Iowa sky, Mo Hailong quickly dug in the rows of freshly planted seed corn. Just the day before, May 2, 2011, he and coworker Wang Lei, vice chairman of Kings Nower Seed of China, stopped at this same field near Tama, Iowa. The farmer told them he was planting seed corn.

With each shovel, Hailong found pay dirt: DuPont Pioneer’s latest parent gene­tics, the building blocks for the next generation of high-yielding hybrids. The men hoped these seeds would help their own company keep up with global competition.




Read About the Heist

  • The Spy Effect
    From September 2011 to October 2012, Mo Hailong was busy.
  • Tech Heist: Same Story, Different Crop
    Weiqiang Zhang and Wengui Yan, both natives of China and living lawfully in the U.S., are charged with trying to smuggle Intellectual Property and proprietary rice seed out of the country.
  • Kings Nower Seed Company Snapshot
    The Chinese seed company at the heart of the tech heist is large, by any measure.
  • What the Tech Heist Means for Farmers
    The dust hasn’t even begun to settle, but it’s already clear that the greatest impact of the seed heist for farmers will be borne by those who grow seed.
  • Editor’s Notebook: FBI Busts Chinese Seed Heists
    A cascade of arrests in mid-December by the FBI shined a light on a labyrinth of activity by Chinese nationals conspiring to steal trade secrets for China-based seed companies.
  • Grand Jury in Kansas Indicts Chinese Scientists
    A federal grand jury on Wednesday indicted Weiqiang Zhang and Wengui Yan on one count each of conspiracy to steal trade secrets and one count of theft of trade secrets.

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