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Crime and Courts

Chinese Scientist Convicted Of Helping Smuggle Kansas-Bred Rice

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Kansas State University
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Weiqiang Zhang was convicted of giving the prorietary seeds to a Chinese delegation of scientists.

A Chinese scientist has been convicted of conspiring to steal trade secrets by smuggling rice seeds from a Kansas bioscience facility.

Weiqiang Zhang was a rice breeder for Ventria Bioscience in Junction City. The company had genetically programmed rice to make several different human proteins, which can be extracted for use in medicine and therapy. Ventria CEO Scott Deeter says its valuable technology.

“We’ve invested in our company about $85 million," Deeter says. "Now, we primarily use rice, but it also could be used in corn, or sorghum or barley.”

Zhang hosted visitors from a crop research institute in China at Ventria’s rice farm in 2013. Inspectors found some of the rice seeds in their luggage as they were heading back to China.

Another Chinese scientist and USDA researcher in Arkansas who had accompanied the visitors to the Kansas rice farm plead guilty in October to making false statements. He is awaiting sentencing.