On August 3, a bipartisan delegation from the United States Congress hosted a discussion with locals in Dysart, Iowa concerning “the impacts of the [Chinese Communist Party’s] malign tactics to undermine American agriculture.”
Farmers in Iowa are accusing the communist regime of stealing samples of genetically modified seeds from America to reproduce on the Chinese mainland. “The area has previously been visited by Chinese nationals to dig up the improved seeds,” Newsweek reported.
On Thursday, local stakeholders met with three members of the House Select Committee on China to discuss what farmers describe as “ongoing attempts to steal America’s agriculture technology.”
One Dysart farmer cited a case from 2012 when he witnessed a man, dressed in business attire, digging up hybrid seeds, which the farmer believes were then sent back to China. The incident resulted in the arrest of Mo Hailong, who was apprehended by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) under suspicion of stealing American agricultural trade secrets. He was later convicted on a number of crimes in 2016.
One of the delegates, Mike Gallagher, chairman of the select committee on China, said at the meeting, “In my opinion, it’s part of a much larger, country-wide, slow-motion heist of American intellectual property. We have a duty to protect all our technology, whether it’s in Silicon Valley or in a cornfield here in Iowa,” Newsweek reported.
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Intellectual property (IP) theft by China costs the American economy between $225 and $600 billion a year, according to the FBI, who describes China as the world’s primary perpetrator of IP theft.
FBI Director, Christopher Wray, said in 2020 that he saw economic espionage cases linked to the CCP surge by an astonishing 1,300 percent.
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Competing with the CCP
Gallagher said “Both the Trump and Biden administrations have oriented U.S. strategy around competing with the Chinese Communist Party — but we are not competing if we’re letting the CCP steal hundreds of billions of dollars from Americans,” adding that, “We’re throwing the game from the outset. So just like the farmer in the Iowa field, you’re being robbed every day in plain sight by the Chinese Communist Party.”
Raja Krishnamoorthi, a ranking Democratic member on the select committee told the local Iowa farmers, “We can’t sustain this anymore. 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.”
According to NewsNation, Iowa farmer Louie Zumbatch said that he and other farmers pay a “tech fee” for the genetically modified seeds. “So, 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’s using that type of technology.”
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A sixth-generation Iowa farmer, Suzanne Sherron, who grows soybeans and corn, believes members of Congress should act “strategically” when dealing with the communist threat.
“One out of every three rows of soybeans you saw as you were driving here goes to China — so while there is little doubt that China has targeted the United States’ intellectual property and engaged in unfair trade practices, let’s proceed cautiously please as there is not another market that can completely replace the Chinese market for the American soybean farmer.”
China, buying up American farmland, has been a hot button issue in recent years, despite China’s ownership of American farmland making up less than one percent of land under foreign ownership. It’s an issue that many don’t want to see escalate.
Earlier this year, national security concerns emerged after China purchased land just 12 miles from Grand Forks Air Force Base in North Dakota. The land was purchased by the Binzhou-based Fufeng group. The group says it wants to build a corn milling plant on the parcel of land.
In late January this year, Andrew Hunter, an assistant secretary of the Department of the Air Force said the project was “a significant threat to national security.”
Following this, other questions have been raised about a mysterious company that has purchased land directly bordering the Travis Air Force Base in California.