In the last year, we’ve seen plenty of Chinese espionage cases that have targeted personal information, trade secrets and detailed infrastructure plans via cyber-attack. While there’s no doubt growing concern over industrial espionage from Chinese agents, a recent incident reminds us that risks still remain outside of the cyber-attack.
On July 1, US authorities arrested a Chinese citizen in connection with an elaborate plan to steal and transport specific strains of corn from some of the largest agro-companies in the country. The Wall Street Journal reports that Mo Yun, who was charged in an indictment on July 2, is the second person arrested in connection with the plot, and that it targeted strains developed by the likes of Monsanto, Dupont and LG.
Yun, is the wife of Shao Genhuo, founder of Beijing Dabeinong Technology Group Co., which operates a large corn-based business in China. The plan likely targeted the theft of corn seeds to exploit the scientific advances researchers had made in those strains.
Considering the amount of time and money that the United States agriculture industry spends on research for crops, the economic impact of the theft and counterfeit of such crops abroad could be devastating.
Multiple federal and state agencies will be involved in the investigation of the incident, and the companies involved have announced they will launch internal audits to prevent similar issues from happening in the future
Speaking in a release from the Department of Justice, Thomas R. Metz, Special Agent in Charge of the Omaha Division of the Federal Bureau of Investigation said, “the FBI’s investigation into Mo Yun should not go unnoticed by those who seek to steal trade secrets and private business information. Identifying and deterring those focused on stealing trade secrets, propriety and confidential information or national security information is the number two priority for the FBI second only to terrorism.”
Nick Klinefeldt, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Iowa, has said that the investigation will be