Man charged with seed corn theft conspiracy pleads guilty

A naturalized U.S. citizen from China has entered a plea agreement with federal prosecutors, admitting he participated in a conspiracy to steal seed corn from U.S. companies.

Mo Hailong, who was living in Florida when he was arrested in December 2013, is accused of traveling to the Midwest with other employees of a seed corn subsidiary of Beijing-based DBN Group to take seed out of Iowa fields with the intent of reproducing its genetic traits.

The plea agreement says Mo admits he conspired to steal trade secrets from DuPont Pioneer and Monsanto.

Mo will be sentenced later in Des Moines. Prosecutors have agreed not to seek a prison sentence exceeding five years.

The investigation began two years ago when Pioneer security staff discovered Chinese men crawling around in cornfields.