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Syngenta AG
Industry Chemicals
Founded 2000
Headquarters Basel, Switzerland
Key people
Michel Demaré (Chairman)
Michael Mack (CEO)
Products Pesticides, seeds, flowers
Revenue Increase US $14.688 billion (2013)[1]
Decrease US $2.086 billion (2013)[1]
Profit Decrease US $1.649 billion (2013)[1]
Total assets Increase US $20.22 billion (end 2013)[1]
Total equity Increase US $9.504 billion (end 2013)[1]
Number of employees
28,150 (end 2013)[1]

Syngenta AG is a global Swiss agribusiness that markets seeds and agrochemicals. Syngenta is involved in biotechnology and genomic research. It was formed in 2000 by the merger of Novartis Agribusiness and Zeneca Agrochemicals. The company was ranked third in total seeds and biotechnology sales in 2009 in the commercial market.[2] Sales in 2013 were approximately US$ 14.7 billion. Syngenta employs over 28,000 people in over 90 countries. Over half of the sales are in emerging markets.[1] Syngenta is listed on both the Swiss stock exchange and in New York.[1]


Syngenta headquarters in Basel

Based in Basel, Switzerland, Syngenta was formed in 2000 by the merger of Novartis Agribusiness and Zeneca Agrochemicals.[3][4] Its roots are considerably older.

Novartis was formed of the 1995 merger of the three Swiss companies:[5] Geigy, which has roots back to 1758;[6] Sandoz Laboratories which was founded in 1876;[citation needed] and Ciba, founded in 1884.[7] Ciba and Geigy had merged in 1971 and had concentrated mainly on crop protection in its agro division,[citation needed] Sandoz more on seeds.[citation needed]

Syngenta works in Huddersfield, West Yorkshire originally owned by ICI.

Zeneca Agrochemicals was part of AstraZeneca, and formerly of Imperial Chemical Industries. ICI was formed in the UK in 1926. Two years later, work began at the Agricultural Research Station at Jealotts Hill near Bracknell.[8]

In 2004, Syngenta Seeds purchased Garst, the North American corn and soybean business of Advanta, as well as Golden Harvest Seeds.[9][10] On December 5, 2004, the European Union ended a six-year moratorium when it approved imports of two varieties of genetically modified corn sold by Monsanto and its Swiss rival, Syngenta.[11]

In 2005, Syngenta opposed a Swiss ban on genetically engineered organisms.[12] On November 28, 2005, Switzerland enacted a five-year ban on the farming of genetically modified crops, underscoring the problems facing the European Commission and biotech companies like Syngenta, Bayer and Monsanto as they try to overcome consumer doubts about safety.[13]

In 2007, Syngenta's Canadian division was named one of Canada's Top 100 Employers, as published in Maclean's magazine, one of only a handful of agribusiness firms to receive this honour.[14]

Syngenta finances the Syngenta Foundation for Sustainable Agriculture.[15] This non-profit organization supports sustainable food security projects in a number of countries.[16]

Some of Syngenta's main competitors are Monsanto Company, BASF, Dow AgroSciences, Bayer CropScience and DuPont Pioneer.[17]


Syngenta has eight primary product lines.[1] The company develops, markets and sells these worldwide:



  • Corn and Soya
  • Other Field Crops
  • Vegetables

Syngenta's field crops include both hybrid seeds and genetically engineered seeds, some of which enter the food chain and become part of genetically modified food. According to Syngenta, in the US their "proprietary triple stack corn seeds expanded to represent around 25 percent of units sold." [18] In 2010 the US EPA granted registration approval for insecticidal trait stacks including Syngenta's AGRISURE VIPTERA™ gene, which offers resistance to certain corn pests.[18] Syngenta also cross-licenses its proprietary genes with Dow AgroSciences and thus is able to include Dow's Herculex I and Herculex RW insect resistance traits in its seeds.[18] It also sells a VMAX soybean that is resistant to glyphosate herbicide.[18]

In 2013, Syngenta sales from crop protection products accounted for US $ 10.923 billion, i.e. 74% of total sales.[1]

Key Syngenta brands include Actara, Agrisure, Alto, Amistar (azoxystrobin), Avicta, Axial, Bicep II, Bravo, Callisto, Celest, Cruiser (TMX, Thiamethoxam), Dividend, Dual, Durivo, Elatus, Fusilade, Force, Golden Harvest, Gramoxon, Hilleshoeg, Karate, Northrup-King (NK), Proclaim, Revus, Ridomil, Rogers, Score, Seguris, S&G, Tilt, Topik, Touchdown, Vertimec, Vibrance.[1]

Current products[edit]

Atrazine is an herbicide of the triazine class. Atrazine is used to prevent pre- and post-emergence broadleaf weeds in crops such as maize (corn) and sugarcane and on turf, such as golf courses and residential lawns.

It is one of the most widely used herbicides in US[19] and Australian agriculture.[20] Atrazine has been banned in the European Union.[21] There has been controversy over atrazine's effects on amphibians,[21] but the EPA has concluded "that atrazine does not adversely affect amphibian gonadal development".[22]

The European Commission decided to suspend use of the company's insecticide Cruiser (thiamethoxam, TMX) on crops pollinated by bees.[23] Syngenta together with Bayer is challenging this ban in court. [24]

Former products[edit]

Syngenta's predecessor, Ciba-Geigy, introduced the insecticide Galecron chlordimeform in 1966, and it was removed from the market in 1988.[25] In 1976, Ciba-Geigy told regulatory authorities that it was temporarily withdrawing chlordimeform because ongoing long-term toxicology studies - particularly studies to determine if long-term exposure could cause cancer - showed that it was causing cancer, and that it has already started to monitor its workers' exposure and had found chlordimeform and its metabolites in the urine of its workers.[26]:8–9 Ciba-Geigy then applied for, and was granted, permission to market Galecron at lower doses for use only on cotton.[27] However as further long term monitoring data was obtained, regulators banned chlordimeform in 1988. In a 1995 class action in the US, Ciba-Geigy agreed to cover costs for employee health monitoring and treatment. In 2005, Syngenta reported that employee health monitoring was continuing at the company's Monthey, Switzerland site [28]


Like many agriculture companies, Syngenta also works in the biofuel space. In 2011, it announced the corn trait ENOGEN to reduce substantially the consumption of water and energy versus conventional corn.[29] Several ethanol producers plan to process such improved corn.[1] For example, Syngenta has signed a commercial agreement with Three Rivers Energy, LLC of Coshocton, Ohio, US to use grain featuring Enogen trait technology following the 2014 corn harvest.[30]

In 2007, Queensland University in Australia contracted with Syngenta to research different inputs for biofuels as a renewable energy source.[31]

Board of directors[edit]

Syngenta is led by Chairman Michel Demaré. The other Directors are Vinita Bali, Stefan Borgas, Gunnar Brock, David Lawrence, Michael Mack (CEO), Eleni Gabre-Madhin, Eveline Saupper, Jacques Vincent, and Jürg Witmer[1]


In 2001, the United States Patent and Trademark Office ruled in favor of Syngenta when the company filed a suit against Bayer to protect its patent on a class of neonicotinoid insecticides.

The following year Syngenta filed suits against Monsanto and a number of other companies claiming infringement of its U.S. biotechnology patents covering genetically modified corn and cotton. In 2004, the company again filed a suit against Monsanto, claiming antitrust violations related to the U.S. biotech corn seed market, and Monsanto countersued. Monsanto and Syngenta settled all the litigation in 2008.[32]

Syngenta was defendant in a class action lawsuit concerning the adverse effects of atrazine in human water supplies. The suit was settled for $105,000,000 in May 2012.[33][34][35] A similar case involving six states is currently in federal court.[36][37]



On 21 October 2007, a Brazilian peasant organization, the Landless Workers' Movement (Portuguese: Movimento dos Trabalhadores Rurais Sem Terra - MST), led a group of landless farmers in an occupation of one of the company's seed research farms, in protest against genetically-engineered ("genetically modified") vegetables and in hopes of obtaining land for landless families to cultivate. After the occupation had begun, a team from NF Security arrived in a minibus and a fight with gunfire ensued. A protestor and a security guard were killed, and some protesters and security guards were wounded.[38]

The Brazilian police investigation completed in November 2007 blamed the confrontation and death of the protestor on nine employees and the owner of NF Security; the leader of MST was blamed for trespassing. The inquiry found that the protester was fatally shot in the abdomen and in the leg. The security guard was shot in the head. Eight others were injured, five of them landless.[39]

The Civil Court of Cascavel granted an order for the repossession of the site on December 20, 2007[40] and on June 12, 2008, the remaining MST members left the Santa Teresa site they had been occupying.[41] On October 14, 2008, Syngenta donated the 123-hectare station to the Agronomy Institute of Paraná (IAPAR) for research into biodiversity, recovery of degraded areas and agriculture production systems, as well as environmental education programs.[42]

Conflict with Tyrone Hayes[edit]

A long running conflict between Syngenta and University of California at Berkeley biologist Tyrone Hayes has been described as "one of the weirdest feuds in the history of science”, by Dashka Slater it in her 2012 profile of Hayes in Mother Jones magazine.[43]

According to an article in the February 10, 2014, issue of The New Yorker, Syngenta's public-relations team took steps to discredit Hayes, whose research is purported to suggest that the Syngenta-produced chemical atrazine was responsible for abnormal development of reproductive organs in frogs. The article states that the company paid third-party critics to write articles discrediting Hayes's work, planned to have his wife investigated, and planted hostile audience members at scientific talks given by Hayes.[21]

During a February 21 interview conducted on Democracy Now, Hayes reiterated the claims.[44] After the interview aired, Syngenta denied targeting Hayes or making any threats, calling those statements "uncorroborated and intentionally damaging" and demanding a retraction and public apology from Hayes and Democracy Now.[45]

In 2010 Syngenta forwarded an ethics complaint to the University of California Berkeley, complaining that Hayes had been sending sexually explicit and harassing e-mails to Syngenta scientists. Legal counsel from the university responded that Hayes had acknowledged sending letters having "unprofessional and offensive" content, and that he had agreed not to use similar language in future communications.[46][47]

Lobbying in the US[edit]

Syngenta's contributions to US federal candidates, parties, and outside groups totaled $267,902 during 2012, ranking it 10th on the list of companies in its sector.[48] Its lobbying expenditures in the US during 2012 were $1,150,000, ranking it 7th in its sector.[49]

Farmers Support Team[edit]

Syngenta sponsors several agricultural programs in developing nations. SFI created its flagship program, the Farmer Support Team (FST). The FST is a nationwide program in the Philippine archipelago. It works with farmers in all the major rice, fruit, and vegetable production provinces of the country. It began by helping Filipino farmers gain greater understanding and achieve higher productivity through trainings in Integrated Pest Management (IPM), Integrated Crop Management (ICM) and Total Crop Management (TCM).[citation needed]

Syngenta Foundation[edit]

The objectives and goals of the Syngenta Foundation are "to work with rural communities in the semiarid regions of the world and improve their livelihoods."[50]

The Syngenta Foundation addressed the World Food Day Symposium in 2005 as an output of the Millennium Ecosystem Report.[51]

Awards and community involvement[edit]

In October 2008, Syngenta Crop Protection Canada, Inc. was recognized as one of Waterloo Area's Top Employers, as announced in the Waterloo Region Record, Guelph Mercury and Cambridge Times.[52] In 2011, Syngenta was named among the top 10 employers in biotechnology by Science magazine.[53] The company was also recognized by the 2011 Dow Jones Sustainability Index (DJSI) as one of the best performing chemical companies worldwide. Syngenta was one of only five chemical companies in the World and Europe indices based on economic, social and environmental performance.[54]

In 2013, Syngenta announced a set of corporate goals to improve agricultural resource utilization, environmental stewardship, productivity, and education, particularly in poverty-stricken areas.[55]


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External links[edit]