Does this crime actually work?

A Chinese man pleaded guilty in a US court on Wednesday to stealing patent-protected corn seed from agribusiness giants Monsanto and DuPont to take back to China for commercial use.

Mo Hailong, 46, participated in a plot to steal inbred corn seeds from the two US companies so that his then employer, Beijing Dabeinong Technology Group, could use them in its own seed business, the US Department of Justice said.

Umm, don’t you need to hybridise them each and every generation? Or is that me not understanding something?

15 thoughts on “Does this crime actually work?”

  1. Per Wikipedia –

    All of the hybrid seeds planted by the farmer will produce similar plants while the seeds of the next generation from those hybrids will not consistently have the desired characteristics. Controlled hybrids provide very uniform characteristics because they are produced by crossing two inbred strains. Elite inbred strains are used that express well-documented and consistent phenotypes (such as high crop yield) that are relatively good for inbred plants.

    Being out here in corn country, I can tell you that it is considered a rather big deal of an economic crime. He was attempting to steal two elite inbred strains, both of which enjoy patent protections.

  2. The reference in the news story is to the seeds from the inbreeding stage of the process , not the Hybrid stage.

  3. There is a concept in genetics known as “hybrid vigour”: take two plants, inbreed them to hell and then hybridise them—you get unusually healthy / big / high yield / etc.


  4. This is why I generally don’t share the opinions of many that China will take over the world through their brilliance. Aside from the fact that their economy is now collapsing mainly due to bone-headed central control and bullshitting the stats, they seem to be a lot better at copying and stealing the ideas of others than coming up with their own. If that way lay a path to riches, others would have done it by now.

  5. “they seem to be a lot better at copying and stealing the ideas of others than coming up with their own.” As was the USA for much of the 19th century.

    “If that way lay a path to riches, others would have done it by now.” They did.

  6. Nobody can make ballpoint pens like Bic can.

    That’s not proof of anything.

    (Bic, fine point, black ….. God’s gift to his Creation.)

  7. “Ah yes, of course. But I meant, becoming Top Dog. At some point you need to innovate, not just copy”. Are you sure? The USA became Top Dog in, very roughly, 1918. Its advantages included being neutral a lot, and having a continent full of forests, ores and fertile soils. Its major native contributions to world technology at the time were probably limited to the cotton gin, the oil biz (though that had been developed at more or less the same time by the Russkis) and …. well aeroplanes would become important, albeit later. Mostly, though, it depended on foreign technologies or imported technologists. It did all right economically, didn’t it? You can get a long way by copying something and doing it better than anyone else – mass production, for instance. The USA’s history of, you know, inventing and developing stuff largely followed its becoming Top Dog, it didn’t precede it.

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