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Research & Development - Why


Every day we are helping growers to meet the growing population's need for safe, affordable and nutritious food, grown in a sustainable way. Our continued investment in research and development adds value to our existing businesses and creates many more opportunities for future growth.

The scale of our activities and our global reach give us a strong foundation to develop and exploit new products and techniques and the business case for this is clear. We are committed to meeting the needs of a growing and increasingly demanding population, and in doing so providing value for our shareholders.

  • Syngenta invested more than US $1 billion in research and development in 2010 to improve ways of growing and protecting crops.
  • In 2010, global sales were $11,641 million.
  • More than 26,000 people work for Syngenta in over 90 countries around the world.

We need to develop new products to meet increased demand
Syngenta is a global agribusiness providing seeds and crop protection solutions to growers around the world. We are an established business with a leading position in the marketplace.

We believe there is a huge global demand for new agricultural products and solutions, and a clear business case for investing in the technologies to deliver them. Our vision is to be the leading provider of innovative crop protection and seed solutions and to develop brands that growers across the food and feed chain will rely on

Demand is driven by population growth and scarcity of land

World population growth

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World population growth


In October 1999 the world population reached six billion and both the United Nations and the World Bank estimate that this figure will increase to over eight billion within the next 25 years. This means that for every three people on the earth today an extra person will be joining them and will need to be fed. It will therefore be essential to ensure that food production keeps pace with this increase in population.

The World Bank estimates that approximately 90 per cent of the required increase in food production must come from yield increases on existing farmland. To achieve this it is imperative that growers can:

  • Protect yields by controlling pests, weeds and diseases
  • Increase yields by developing varieties that optimize the production of useful parts of plants and other agronomic effects
  • Improve yields by enhancing the composition of plant products such as oils, proteins and nutrients

To provide food for the ever-increasing world population, in a sustainable way, growers across the world will look to companies like Syngenta for help. As the development of a new crop protection product or new plant variety can take many years, our researchers must discover and develop products today in order for our children, or grandchildren, to benefit.

Consumer Need

Demand is driven by consumer need for broader choice and higher quality
In the developed world it has become the norm to walk into a supermarket and choose from a wide variety of food products of very high quality. This expectation of choice and quality is likely to spread in the future as countries around the world develop economically. The International Food Policy Research Institute forecasts a 40 per cent increase in demand for grain alone by 2020. To meet these demands the large food companies will look to Syngenta and others to provide solutions.

With the increasing demand by consumers for higher quality and a greater choice of food, our innovative solutions can provide for these needs while ensuring that we meet our responsibilities to our shareholders.

Our products also play an essential role in non-agricultural areas: for example protecting the turf on golf courses and recreation areas from weeds, pests and diseases. Our non-food seeds - such as our flower varieties - deliver the quality and variety consumers demand.

The results of our research efforts also protect the health of families from hazards including malaria-carrying mosquitoes and protect their possessions from insect pests.

Affordable Food

The need for affordable food
One of the major successes within the food industry over the last few decades has been the sustained improvement in yields. A combination of factors, including improved seed varieties and crop protection methods, have been involved, and in many parts of the world this has helped ensure a good supply of affordable food.

However, even with the use of modern crop protection products and seed varieties, it has been estimated that, on average, 30 to 40 per cent of crops are still lost. Continued development is needed to secure the supply of affordable food and to minimize the damage caused by pests, weeds and diseases as they become resistant to older methods of control.


The opportunity to improve health and nutrition
Modern technology - using improved seeds, chemicals and management techniques - provides us with the opportunity to improve the nutritional value of food and enhance the dietary intake of consumers. This can help alleviate nutritional deficiencies and offer significant health benefits. Perhaps the most important contribution that our researchers will make to agriculture in the next two decades will be to improve yield and quality, and develop crops that are better sources of nutrients, oils and proteins.

Already, access to a plentiful supply of fruit and vegetables, made possible by new crop protection products and seed varieties, has made a huge impact on human health over the past five decades.

As well as their role in protecting food supplies, many crop protection products are important in the control of health-threatening pests such as mosquitoes, cockroaches, flies and rodents. These products are essential to the well-being of thousands of communities around the world. The ability to enhance food safety and security of supply As new strains of pests and diseases develop which are resistant to existing products, it is essential that we develop new control methods to ensure a stable supply of food.

The ability to enhance food safety and security of supply
As new strains of pests and diseases develop which are resistant to existing products, it is essential that we develop new control methods to ensure a stable supply of food.

Sustainable Development

The importance of sustainable development
It is essential that our efforts to meet the needs of present day consumers do not compromise the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. New technologies must ensure that we can increase food production in a sustainable way.

Without further increases in productivity, more land will have to be brought under cultivation, which has the potential to severely damage biodiversity. The scarcity of available land in many parts of the world due to urbanization and industrial development also means there is a continued need to increase the productivity of current land use.

Existing Products

Making the most of existing products
While new technologies to improve yields, quality or nutritional value are important, much of our research is directed towards developing new application methods and formulations for existing chemical products.

Our development of micro-encapsulation technology is a good example. By enhancing delivery techniques we have offered significant benefits to growers such as longer protection against pests, weeds and diseases. New application methods, such as product packs that dissolve when added to water, are also making it easier to use our products to protect crops.

We are helping meet these demands by developing innovative products
Over the past half-century, significant increases in crop yields and quality have been achieved. Almost all crops have benefited - from the production of corn in the USA, rice in Indonesia through to wheat in India, a relentless gain in crop yields has been evident. Efficiency gains have meant the needs of the ever growing and more demanding global population have been met without a significant increase in agricultural land area.

Our scientists are now developing the crops and chemical solutions that will ensure that we meet the needs of the two billion extra people who will inhabit the world within 25 years.

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