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Public (SWX : SYNN)
HeadquartersBasel, Switzerland
Key peopleMartin Taylor (Chairman)
Michael Pragnell (CEO)
ProductsSeeds, crop protection products
RevenueUS $8.046 billion (2006)[1]
ProfitUS $875 million (2006)[1]

Syngenta AG is a large global agribusiness which markets seeds and crop protection products (pesticides). Syngenta is involved in biotechnology and genomic research. The company is a leader in crop protection, and ranks third in total sales in the commercial agricultural seeds market. Sales in 2005 were approximately US$ 8.1 billion. Syngenta employs over 21,000 people in over 90 countries. Syngenta is listed on the Swiss stock exchange (SWX: SYNN) and in New York NYSE: SYT.



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

Crop Protection:

  • Selective Herbicides
  • Non-selective Herbicides
  • Fungicides
  • Insecticides
  • Professional Products


  • Field Crops
  • Vegetables
  • Flowers

In 2003, more than half of Syngenta sales came from selective herbicides and fungicides.

Key Syngenta brands include Actara, Amistar, Callisto, Cruiser, DualGold, Northrup-King (NK), Rogers, S&G, and Gramoxone.

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

Some of Syngenta's main competitors are: Monsanto, BASF, Bayer and DuPont.

Board of directors

Syngenta is led by Chairman Martin Taylor. The other Directors are Peggy Bruzelius, Peter Doyle, Rupert Gasser, Pierre Landolt, Michael Pragnell (CEO), Pedro Reiser, Peter Thompson, Jacques Vincent, Rolf Watter, and Felix Weber.


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

In 1758 the city’s Johann Rudolf Geigy-Gemuseus began trading in “Materials, Chemicals, Dyes and Drugs of all kinds”. In 1876, Sandoz Laboratories began business in Basel, followed in 1884 by Ciba. These three companies ultimately became Novartis in 1995. Ciba-Geigy, formed in 1971, had concentrated mainly on crop protection in its agro division, Sandoz more on seeds.

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 Jealott’s Hill near Bracknell.

In 2004, Syngenta Seeds purchased the North American corn and soybean business of Advanta, as well as Garst and Golden Harvest.

In 21 October, 2007, a Brazilian peasant organization, the Landless Workers' Movement, led a group of landless farmers on an occupation of one of the company's seed research farms, in protest against genetically-modified vegetables and in hopes of obtaining land for landless families to cultivate. After the occupation had begun, a group of gunmen arrived in a minibus and attacked the protesters. A security guard was killed, various protesters were wounded, and Valmir Mota de Oliveira, known as Keno, was executed with two shots on the chest.

Surviving protesters, and sympathizers (Including Sarah Wilson, of the Christian Aid) claimed that the gunmen were under orders of Syngenta to kill the occupiers, but the company says that the guards of the security company they contracted were not allowed to carry guns. The MST claimed further that NF Security was a front company controlled by rural producer organizations linked to the agribusiness. Amnesty International expressed concern, and said that threats and intimidation by gunmen hired by landowners and agricultural companies are a common occurrence in Paraná. [2]

Syngenta recently opposed a Swiss ban on genetically modified organisms. [1]

Legal Issues

Syngenta and its predecessor companies have been involved in numerous legal actions over the years. Syngenta has historically used the courts to defend its intellectual property and perceived right to free trade. Syngenta declares a policy of not exercising its patents in seeds and biotechnology in the least-developed of developing countries.

In 2001, the US Patent and Trademark Office ruled in favor of Syngenta when the company filed suit against Bayer to protect its patent on a class of neonicotinoid insecticides. In 2002, Syngenta filed suit against Monsanto and a number of other companies claiming infringement of its US biotechnology patents covering transgenic corn and cotton.

In 2004, the company again filed suit against Monsanto, claiming antitrust violations related to the US biotech corn seed market.

The Syngenta legal record also includes citations by regulators, NGOs, and individuals for health issues related to its products.

Following a series of fatalities due to accidental consumption in the 1960s, the company’s herbicide, Gramoxone® (Paraquat), gained notoriety in the 1970s and 80s due to a rash of suicides using the product, similar to the use of Monsantos herbicide Roundup/glyphosate for suicidal purposes. Although the World Health Organization (WHO) classifies it as only moderately hazardous, in the United States it is labeled a restricted use pesticide and it is banned in several countries. The U.S. Center for Disease Control describes the herbicide as "dangerously poisionous" to humans if ingested, inhaled, or absorbed into the body. Syngenta has added a blue dye, a foul odor, and a powerful vomit-inducer to Gramoxone to help prevent mistakes and misuse.

The company has also faced questions on its Galecron insecticide’s possible relationship to bladder cancer and other illnesses. Production of Galecron stopped between 1976 and 1978 for new safety assessments, and then halted permanently in 1988 after more research showed potential risk. In a 1995 class action in the US, Ciba-Geigy agreed to cover costs for employee health monitoring and treatment.

Atrazine has been banned in several Wisconsin counties in the United States and in the European Union. Syngenta has been linked to attempts to block the publications of UC Berkeley Professor Tyrone Hayes, although Syngenta has denied those claims. Tyrone Hayes researches the herbicide Atrazine, which he has found to cause hermaphroditism in frogs. [2] However, EPA and its independent Scientific Advisory Panel (SAP) examined all available studies on this topic - including Hayes' work - and concluded there is "currently insufficient data" to determine if atrazine may affect amphibian development. Hayes, formerly part of the panel, resigned in 2000 to continue studies independently.

Development and marketing of pesticides and some genetically modified seed have made Syngenta a target of environmental and human safety activists.

Sustainable Agriculture

Syngenta claims to promote a sustainable agriculture ethic[3] although some fundamental aspects of the company's structure and products call this into question. Syngenta's business directly promotes the concept of monocultural production through its development of genetically modified herbicide resistant crops. Sustainable agriculture doctrine questions the sustainability of monocultural cropping system. Atrazine is an endocrine disruptor, is persistent in soil and water and is a major contaminant of well-water in the Midwestern United States. In addition, Atrazine has been proven to enter fresh water supplies and some claim it has the potential to cause hormonal imbalances in humans. This sort of toxicity and residue duration can potentially harm the soil food web and is therefore counter to the prevailing consensus on sustainability.

Farmers Support Team

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).


  1. ^ a b Annual Report 2006. Syngenta AG. Retrieved on 2007-11-06.
  2. ^ Independent article on the MST occupation 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.{{cite web|url=,+Inc.&ri=3ebc5a83a687e3322c4427d7126459d7&rk=9d12e346a85ef2b22bf5ca243bb7e970|title=Reasons for Selection, 2007 Canada's Top 100 Employers}}
This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Syngenta". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
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