A Chinese national was sentenced to three years in prison for conspiring to steal trade secrets from DuPont Pioneer and Monsanto, the US Department of Justice (DoJ) reported on 5 October.

Mo Hailong, a Chinese national who became a lawful US permanent resident, was employed as the director of international business at the Beijing Dabeinong Technology Group Company (DBN), a Chinese conglomerate with a corn seed subsidiary called Kings Nower Seed.

According to a plea agreement entered on 27 January, Hailong admitted to participating in a long-term conspiracy to steal trade secrets from the two biotech companies.

The DoJ said Hailong took part in the theft of parent corn seeds from fields in Iowa and elsewhere in order to transport the seeds to DBN in China. An investigation was launched by the FBI when DuPont Pioneer security staff detected suspicious activity.

"Theft of trade secrets is a serious federal crime, as it harms victim companies that have invested millions of dollars and years of work toward the development of propriety technology,” said US Attorney Kevin VanderSchel.

As well as his prison sentence, Mo Hailong was also ordered to serve three years of supervised release following his term of imprisonment and was ordered to pay restitution in an amount to be determined at a later date.

Hailong was also ordered to forfeit two farms in Iowa and Illinois that were bought and utilised by himself and others during the course of the conspiracy.