The Osaka Prefectural Police have been investigating a farmer in Tokushima Prefecture for selling the sperm and fertilized eggs of wagyu beef cattle to a Japanese man who attempted to smuggle them to China, sources have said.
The livestock farmer told police in February he sold the sperm and eggs for several million yen to a man he had never met, the sources said Sunday.
The investigation came after Chinese authorities found a Japanese man carrying the sperm and eggs, stashed in straw-like containers, in July last year and did not allow him to enter the country.
The man, from Osaka, who did not go through the required procedure for exporting livestock, told police he was asked by an acquaintance to carry the sperm and eggs to China. The police believe the man who attempted to bring the items into China and the buyer in Tokushima are different people.
The farmer did not follow necessary procedures to sell cattle sperm and eggs, telling the police he was asked to sell them over the phone and did not know they would be taken out of the country, the sources said.
Japan has already seen other genetic resources smuggled to other countries.
The agriculture ministry has said some plant varieties newly developed by Japanese farmers have been illegally taken out of the country, including certain strawberries and muscat grapes.