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‘Slow-Motion Heist’: Midwestern Farmers Accuse Chinese Communist Party Of Stealing Valuable American Seeds

Multiple Iowan farmers accused the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) on Thursday of arranging the theft of valuable genetically-modified seeds in the U.S., according to Newsweek.

The farmers alleged that Chinese nationals have been known to dig up genetically modified seeds, which are the product of scientific research and improve crop yields, making the seeds a valuable trade secret for the American agricultural sector, according to Newsweek. The farmers conveyed the allegations to a bipartisan delegation of congressional lawmakers who sat for a Thursday roundtable meeting in Dysart, Iowa.

Farmers pay a fee in order to use the genetically modified seeds, one farmer explained to Newsweek. When Chinese nationals steal those seeds so that they can be used in China and allow Chinese firms to skip research and development, they are stealing American intellectual property (IP) and trade secrets in order to gain an advantage, the farmer elaborated.

“In my opinion, it’s part of a much larger, country-wide, slow-motion heist of American intellectual property,” Republican Wisconsin Rep. Mike Gallagher, said during the roundtable meeting, according to Newsweek. “We have a duty to protect all our technology, whether it’s in Silicon Valley or in a cornfield here in Iowa.”

Participants in the discussion cited a 2012 incident in which a local farmer saw a man in business clothing unearthing proprietary seeds, which were then delivered back to China, according to Newsweek. Mo Hailong, a Chinese national, was eventually arrested by authorities for the theft of U.S. agricultural trade secrets, and he was convicted of several crimes related to the conspiracy in 2016, according to a Department of Justice press release.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) estimates that Chinese theft of American IP costs the U.S. economy as much as $600 billion each year, according to a 2019 report by the agency. FBI Director Chris Wray remarked in a July 2020 speech that his outfit had observed a massive 1,300% spike in IP theft and corporate espionage cases linked to China.

“We can’t sustain this anymore,” Democratic Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi of Illinois, told the roundtable, according to Newsweek. “We can’t have a situation where we’re constantly developing secrets and research and doing the hard work of innovating — and then all of a sudden having that stolen from us, especially when agricultural exports, especially from your district and others, are so vital to the economy.”

The allegations emerging from America’s breadbasket follow months of escalating provocations from Beijing. A CCP spy balloon traversed the skies of the continental U.S. in February, CCP-linked hackers compromised the email accounts of several high-ranking U.S. officials earlier this summer and reports emerged just last weekend that Chinese malware has infested networks critical to supporting military bases and key infrastructure.

Neither the State Department nor the Chinese Foreign Ministry responded immediately to requests for comment.

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