DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Prosecutors alleging seven employees of a Chinese agriculture biotechnology company conspired to steal trade secrets from U.S. seed corn companies now say the loss to the companies is likely more than $500 million.
The new estimate surfaced in a custody hearing Thursday for Mo Yun, a Chinese woman charged in Iowa as part of the conspiracy.
The government says seed corn was stolen from fields in Iowa and Illinois to duplicate the genetic traits developed primarily by Pioneer and Monsanto.
Mo is one of seven people associated with DBN Group to be indicted. She appeared in federal court in Des Moines asking to be released on bond. She is the wife of the company’s chairman, a Chinese billionaire.
Prosecutors want Yun held or closely monitored until her Dec. 1 trial.