Chinese Man Charged in Seed Thefts Pleads Innocent

The leaves of corn stalks turn upward to collect more water when it comes, on a farm west of Center Point, Iowa, on Tuesday, July 11, 2012. Much of the midwest is in a moderate to severe drought. (Nikole Hanna/The Gazette-KCRG)

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By Ben Hoppenworth

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - One of the six men from China charged with conspiring to steal patented seed corn from two of the nation's leading seed developers has appeared in federal court in Des Moines.

Mo Hailong, also known as Robert Mo, appeared Thursday before Magistrate Judge Ross Walters. He entered a plea of not guilty to one count of conspiracy to steal trade secrets. Walters set a trial date for March 31 and ordered Mo held until trial.

A lawyer based in Beijing was approved to represent Mo.

Xiang Wang did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment on behalf of his client.

Mo was arrested in Miami on Dec. 11. FBI investigators say highly valuable seed corn owned by Pioneer Hybrid and Monsanto was being taken from test fields.

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