A federal jury on [Feb. 16, 2017] convicted a Chinese scientist in Kansas of conspiring to steal samples of a variety of genetically engineered rice seeds from a U.S. research facility, the U.S. Justice Department said, the latest attempt at agricultural theft linked to China.
Weiqiang Zhang, 50, a Chinese national living in Manhattan, Kansas, was convicted on three counts, including conspiracy to steal trade secrets and interstate transportation of stolen property….
Zhang, who has a doctorate from Louisiana State University, worked as a rice breeder for Kansas-based Ventria Bioscience Inc, which develops genetically programmed rice used in the therapeutic and medical fields.
He stole hundreds of rice seeds produced by Ventria and stored them at his Manhattan residence, the statement said.
In recent years, U.S. law enforcement officials have urged agriculture executives and security officers to increase their vigilance and report suspicious activity involving farm products, citing a growing economic and national security threat to the sector.
In Zhang’s case, employees of a crop research institute in China visited him in 2013 in Kansas. U.S. customs officers found seeds belonging to Ventria in the luggage of Zhang’s visitors as they prepared to leave the United States for China….
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