Chinese investments in American farmland have been a looming issue. One of the issues is agricultural concerns. Some fear that control of agricultural resources and potential impacts on U.S. food security could be compromised.
Foreign ownership can also result in the exportation of resources back to China, which could ultimately affect local food supply and prices. Republicans have been pushing against perceived threats from the anticapitalist country.
“If China worked this hard to steal a corn seed, how hard would they work to steal what you produce?”
— The Select Committee on the CCP (@committeeonccp) June 15, 2023
The latest accusation comes from Iowan farmers. They’ve accused China of stealing highly-valuable samples from the U.S. These samples are genetically modified seeds that can improve crops. The idea is that they’ve taken these samples to reproduce back in China.
Farmers emphasized their concerns to a bipartisan delegation of congressional lawmakers during a meeting. The meeting was titled “The Impacts of the Chinese Communist Party’s Malign Tactics to Undermine American Agriculture.” This roundtable occurred in Dysart, Iowa.
Farmers are required to pay a fee to use specialized seeds, AKA ones that are genetically modified. When Chinese nationals take those seeds, it allows Chinese firms to skip research and development. They are indeed stealing American intellectual property (IP) and trade secrets for their own gain.
Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-WI) stated during the meeting, “In my opinion, it’s part of a much larger, country-wide, slow-motion heist of American intellectual property.” He continues, “We have a duty to protect all our technology, whether in Silicon Valley or cornfields here in Iowa.”
The roundtable also brought up a case from 2012, in which a Dysart, Iowa, farmer had caught a man in business attire digging up hybrid seeds to send them back to China. Mo Hailong worked as the director of international business of the Beijing Dabeinong Technology Group Co.
The company, also known as DBN, was a Chinese conglomerate with a corn seed subsidiary, Kings Nower Seed. The FBI arrested Hailong and multiple others for stealing U.S. agriculture trade secrets. He served three years in prison.
The FBI says there is a rise in Chinese companies targeting patented U.S. seeds. The goal would be to counterfeit them without paying for their own research and development, which in turn costs U.S. companies billions. They estimate that Chinese theft of U.S. IP costs our economy $600 billion annually.
One farmer told lawmakers, “When they steal that, and they use all that technology for nothing, they are stealing from every Iowa farmer and every farmer in America that is using that type of technology.”