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Scientists find research probably has been eaten

By Xu Chi (Shanghai Daily)

08:44, July 04, 2012

SCIENTISTS in a research facility in Zhengzhou City of Henan Province were stunned to see that the fruit of much of their 13 years of research work had been, presumably, eaten.

Three men broke into a farm where the scientists cultivate new species of peaches and two made off with bags of the valuable scientific specimens.

Police have detained one of the peach-stealers, a stall vendor from a Zhengzhou village, on Monday evening. They were still hunting the other two - a fortune teller and a joss stick seller, local newspapers reported yesterday.

Police told Zhengzhou-based Dahe Daily that they were not sure which charges the peach thieves might face since they didn't know the true value of the fruit. Scientists said direct losses may be in the tens of thousands of yuan.

The three men broke into the farm belonging to a research center under Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences at about 7pm on Monday, the newspaper reported.

"It's the first time I have stolen peaches at this farm," Li Yonggang, the suspect, was quoted in the newspaper as saying. "How am I supposed to know that the peaches were worth so much money?"

Niu Liang, a researcher, said the fruit includes over 12 species. Scientists have spent 13 years developing the species, using advanced technology and an initial investment of 2 to 3 million yuan (US$314,797 to US$472,195).

"The peaches cannot even be valued with money alone," said Niu, "The team spent a lot of effort to cultivate new species, and now the entire work is ruined."

In August 2003, four migrant workers broke into a Beijing academy's research base and stole 20 kilograms of grapes. They faced serious charges and the grapes were valued at over 10,000 yuan. But at trial, the grapes were revalued to only 376 yuan, and theft charges were dropped.

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