HUANGGANG, Hubei - China has stepped up its efforts to ensure the country's food security by cracking down on sales of fake seeds.
The move is seen as a major effort by the Chinese government to boost the agricultural sector after the State Council, the country's Cabinet, launched a six-month campaign in October to fight the making and selling of fake goods as well as violations of intellectual property rights.
More than 15,000 kilograms of rice seeds and 30,000 packages of cotton seeds, which are fake or have infringed upon intellectual property rights, were destroyed in Huanggang, a city in Central China's Hubei province on Thursday.
The total value was more than 1 million yuan ($150,000), the Ministry of Agriculture said.
In a case exposed by the ministry on Thursday, Long'an Seed Co Ltd, a Sichuan-based company, sold 10,000 kg of fake rice seeds in packages for a hybrid rice strain, popular for its high yield, to a local seed company in Huanggang in January and February last year.
The company was fined 300,000 yuan in December and all the fake seeds were destroyed on Thursday.
"We destroyed all the fake seeds by grinding them this time instead of burning them to prevent environmental pollution," Xu Zuge, a chief for seed management in the Hubei provincial agriculture department, told China Daily.
In 2010, more than 1,000 cases related to the seed industry had been investigated and prosecuted in Hubei province. About 300,000 kg of fake seeds have been destroyed, he said.
Similar campaigns to destroy fake seeds will also be launched in other major grain-producing and seed-producing areas, such as Gansu, Henan, Jilin and Hunan in the next few months, focusing on examining rice seeds and corn seeds, the ministry said.
Agricultural experts said selling fake seeds and infringing on seed variety rights have been quite common among some small seed companies in recent years, causing great economic losses for farmers and seed sellers with intellectual property rights.
In April 2010, a rural resident surnamed Peng hung himself after he failed to claim damages from purchasing fake seeds in Henan province, China News Service reported.
"At present, too many small-sized seed companies with substandard products have flooded the market, which is causing difficulties for the government's management," said Lu Bu, a researcher at the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences.
"Seed security was a basis for the country's grain growth. It will badly dampen the enthusiasm of farmers when they have economic losses after planting fake seeds. Therefore, long-term supervision of the country's seed market is needed," he said.
Since October, 37 cases related to fake seeds or infringing on seed variety rights have been investigated and prosecuted across the country, involving 500,000 kg of seeds valued up to 7 million yuan, statistics from the ministry show.