FBI says Chinese spying, theft of US agricultural biotechnology is ‘a growing threat’


As a group of visiting scientists prepared to board a plane in Hawaii that would take them back home to China, U.S. customs agents found rice seeds in their luggage. Those seeds are likely to land at least one scientist in federal prison.

Agriculture today is a high-tech business, but as that technology has developed, so has the temptation to take shortcuts and steal trade secrets that could unlock huge profits. The FBI calls agricultural economic espionage “a growing threat” and some are worried that biotech piracy can spell big trouble for a dynamic and growing U.S. industry.

Had they succeeded in stealing the gene-spliced rice, the scientists may have been able to reverse-engineer it and ultimately undercut [US company] Ventria’s market. [Ventria President and CEO Scott] Deeter says it could have driven his company out of business.

“Where the commodity in question is grown in open fields, it’s sometimes difficult,” [Jason] Griess [the assistant U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Iowa] says.

Theft of intellectual property costs the U.S. economy hundreds of billions of dollars each year, according to a recent report from the Commission on the Theft of American Intellectual Property, a Washington, D.C.-based ad-hoc panel formed to study intellectual property theft. China, the authors say, is the biggest offender.

The GLP aggregated and excerpted this blog/article to reflect the diversity of news, opinion, and analysis. Read full, original post: Spies In The Field: As Farming Goes High-Tech, Espionage Threat Grows

  • Good4U

    I agree that Chinese spying & theft of secret information & technology is a threat which should be shut down ASAP. However, in a couple of months China, in the form of the Chinese National Chemical Industry (shorthand term ChemChina), is going to OWN Syngenta, one of the world’s leaders in agricultural biotechnology. So in fact, China won’t really have to steal anything in order to use advanced biotechnology for their national and global gain. Just my opinion– the EU and US regulators have made a big mistake in allowing the sale of Syngenta to ChemChina to occur. Too late now.

  • Stuart M.

    “Ventria’s Scott Deeter hopes that China will crack down on these cases, and that scientists across the world will respect each other’s innovations.” Ha! Ha! Ha! I haven’t had such a good laugh in a long while. China totally doesn’t respect intellectual property. Every Tom, Dick and Harry can set up stores which resemble Apple or McDonalds. Any obscure Chinese company with absolutely no products to sell can claim they have the rights to “iPad” and win in a Chinese court! American companies who don’t like it can just go home. China already has a fairly advanced agricultural biotechnology sector, who knows where they got it from. But I guess we can rest easy, the anti-GMO nuts are busy in China throwing mud in everyone’s eyes about GMOs there too.

  • Realist

    It is hard to believe anything the FBI says or any of the ‘spy agencies’ for that matter.