New government report says Beijing’s agricultural policies could be dangerous for the United States
China’s efforts to ensure food security pose a threat to the United States, according to a federal agency specializing in trade with Beijing. Officials warn that Chinese companies could attempt to steal intellectual property, cut profits from Washington’s food exports, undermine American supply chains and even target American genetically modified crops with biowarfare.
A report released this week by the US-China Economic and Security Review Commission focuses on “China’s Interest in American Agriculture” and declares that Beijing is “increasing food security through overseas investment” after facing “challenges” during the last years.
“The Chinese government’s domestic efforts, however, are not enough to solve China’s problems,” he added. the report concluded, adding that Beijing is now looking abroad “to meet its needs through investments and acquisitions of agricultural land, livestock, agricultural equipment and intellectual property (IP), in particular of GM [genetically modified] seeds.”
These efforts pose several risks to the economic and national security of the United States.
To argue that China is “hunger” for U.S. intellectual property, the document goes on to warn of the potential “military applications” agricultural technologies, even suggesting that the People’s Liberation Army may one day attempt to wage biological warfare against genetically modified American crops.
“While China’s primary interest in obtaining GM seeds from the United States is to improve its crop yields, the potential weaponization of agricultural intellectual property is possible,” It said. “Similar to hacking computer code, Beijing could easily hack the code or DNA of American GM seeds and wage biological warfare by creating a type of plague that could destroy American crops.”
The report also cited more mundane concerns about US supply chains, saying Beijing could reach “excessive leverage” on the American economy through its investments and “erode US competitiveness in agricultural technology”.
“Furthermore, China’s illicit acquisitions of GM seeds boost China’s development of these seeds, deprive US companies of revenue, and provide an opportunity to uncover vulnerabilities in US crops,” added the commission.
Washington’s warnings come amid an emerging international food crisis stemming from Russia’s attack on Ukraine in late February, as well as the massive Western sanctions campaign in response. Both Russia and its neighbor are major agricultural exporters, supplying some countries with much of their grain.
Although U.S. and allied officials have blamed the grain and fertilizer shortages solely on Moscow, China recently pushed back against those accusations at the United Nations, pointing instead to Western economic sanctions.
“Sanctions will not bring peace but will only accelerate the fallout from the crisis, triggering food, energy and financial crises across the world,” he added. Chinese Deputy Ambassador to the UN Dai Bing said earlier this month.
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