Recently there has been much discussion about the People’s Republic of China’s (PRc) investment in and commitment to agricultural biotechnology (agri-biotech). Rapid economic expansion, population growth and technological development are changing the PRC; accompanying these changes is increased demand for high-quality food and fibre. Agn-biotech is optimistically viewed as an important way to meet these demands. Whereas Chinese technological capacity in agri-biotech has advanced significantly over the past decade, it may be unable to meet these challenges. Even when this capacity is combined with good intentions, enlightened policy and large capital outlays, accelerated development of agri-biotech may nevertheless be precluded. Without a reliably enforced system of intellectual property rights (IPRs), the hoped for potential of agri-biotech may never be fulfilled.