Solutions FAQ

Solutions

Integrated solutions

How does Syngenta’s integrated approach benefit the customer?

Syngenta is uniquely positioned to address the increasingly complex challenges facing farmers through our world leading Crop Protection portfolio and our broad Seeds and biotechnology offers. Combining the products in the field can add further value for the customers. Through the development of innovative solutions tailored to specific crops and regions, we can enable farmers worldwide to grow more from less.

What are Syngenta’s product brands and crops?

Since 2011, Syngenta’s strategy has been to develop a fully integrated offer on a global crop basis. This involves bringing together our crop protection, Seedcare and seed portfolios.
These portfolios include:

  • Crop protection – brands like ACURON™ and CALLISTO® for weed control; ELATUS™ and AMISTAR® for disease control; DURIVO® and ACTARA® for insect control - all helping crops reach their potential 
  • Seedcare – products like CRUISER®, FORTENZA™, MAXIM® and VIBRANCE™ protect the crop at critical growth stages and help develop strong root systems
  • Seeds – our leading seed varieties, hybrids and traits under brands such as Agrisure® and NK® deliver superior yield and quality
  • Integrated solutions - our HYVIDO® hybrid barley seed varieties in combination with a tailored protocol enable growers to achieve higher yield consistency, while using water and nitrogen more efficiently. Our GroMore solution provides rice growers with the right knowledge and technology in each key development phase of the crop.

Our offer covers eight major crops: corn, soybean, cereals, rice, sugar cane, diverse field crops (sunflower, oilseed rape and sugar beet), specialty crops (e.g. potatoes, cotton, citrus and pome fruits, grapes), and plantation crops such as bananas and coffee.

We also apply our world-leading agriculture technology in the lawn and garden market with brands such as HERITAGE®, REVIVE® and ADVION® in turf, landscape and professional pest management.

Read more about our product brands and the crops we target

Crop protection

What are crop protection products?

Crop protection products protect crops from damage caused by biotic and abiotic stress. They control weeds, disease and insect pressure, and can mitigate climate stress. The widespread use of newer and more effective products since the middle of the twentieth century has increased food security and improved standards of living around the world.

  • Herbicides control weeds that compete with crops for light and nutrients. Without weed control, crop yield can be significantly reduced. Herbicides are categorized as selective herbicides, which are directly applied on specific crops to control particular weeds without damaging the crop, and non-selective herbicides, which eliminate all plants (if absorbed by green tissue).
  • Fungicides prevent and cure fungal diseases which can have severe adverse effects on crop yield and quality. Plant diseases are caused by a great variety of pathogens.
  • Insecticides control insects such as caterpillars and that aphids that can significantly reduce crop yield and quality through their feeding.
  • Seed treatments are chemical or biological substances or physical processes applied to seeds or seedlings. They help to protect the seeds and assure optimum emergence of the crop. Application of a chemical to seeds is a very well-targeted method of reducing pest and disease attacks on the growing plant.
  • Plant growth and stress regulators create a shorter, stronger plant, increase root mass, resulting in improved water and nutrient uptake and better tolerance to drought and heat.

Are pesticides really necessary?

Plants themselves naturally produce a wide range of chemicals to protect themselves against pests, but these are not enough to prevent large losses of food crops. In fact, it is estimated that between 35% and 40% of all crops would be lost to insects, weeds and disease without appropriate pesticide use1

The effective use of pesticides helps growers to grow more from less, increasing food security for millions of people by reducing crop losses resulting from insects, weeds and diseases.



1Oerke E C and Dehne H W; "Safeguarding Production – Losses in Major Crops and the Role of Crop Protection"; Crop Protection 23 (2004): 275-285.

Wasn’t food a lot healthier before the widespread use of pesticides?

Food was not healthier before pesticides: infestation with dangerous pests and disease was common and persistent. The use of pesticides has enabled farmers to produce a more abundant supply of safe, affordable, fresh food than ever before, supporting healthy diets around the world.

Pesticides themselves do not make food unhealthy and residues in fruit and vegetables are highly regulated to remain well within safety levels (see next question).


Do pesticides negatively impact human health or contaminate the environment?

Modern pesticides are designed with three things in mind – they must be safe, they must be specific to their target and they must be short-lived, breaking down harmlessly shortly after achieving their aim. They are only approved for use after extensive testing for any potential effect on human health or the environment.

Pesticide residues in food are highly regulated and constantly monitored. Maximum legal levels are typically 100 times lower than needed for safety and there is no evidence that the miniscule residue sometimes left on fruit and vegetables has any effect on human health.

All our products are also tested extensively to make sure that they do not have a negative impact on the environment, biodiversity or waterways when used as recommended. Pesticides can also bring environmental benefits by reducing the need for tilling thereby increasing soil vitality, reducing erosion, and improving the quality of the land. 

Is organic agriculture better than agriculture using new technologies?

Objective scientific research has led many food safety agencies around the world to conclude that organic food is not safer or more nutritious than food produced with agronomic practices that include the use of modern pesticides.

Contrary to common belief, organic farmers are allowed to use a range of pesticides and toxic chemicals on their crops – either those obtained from natural sources or those that are considered traditional practices.

Why are pesticides allowed in one country and banned in another?

Pesticides are developed to tackle specific issues in specific locations. Variations in climate or localized pest and diseases mean that a product used to treat crops in one country may not be suitable to treat the same crops in another country.

Regulations are often developed on a country level and regulatory bodies will only approve a product if there is a need for them in their country. This means that while a certain product has been approved for use in one location it will not necessarily be approved for use in another. This is not an indication of the safety of its ingredients or that a product has been ‘banned’ in a particular country, it is merely that it has not been registered or re-registered there.

Read more about regulations of crop protection products in different countries

What does Syngenta think about Atrazine?

For more than 50 years, the herbicide Atrazine has been used safely and effectively by farmers as a selective herbicide used for weed control in crops such as corn, sorghum and sugar cane.

Atrazine provides considerable advantages to farmers. It is a well-understood and affordable product – without it, a University of Chicago economist has estimated corn farming in the US would cost up to $59 per acre more (representing a combination of alternative herbicide costs and reduced yield). Atrazine is also widely used in conservation tillage and non-till systems, which can reduce soil erosion by up to 90% (according to data from the US Department of Agriculture) – helping to preserve soil fertility and protect waterways from sediment.

Despite rigorous testing, Atrazine continues to be a target for activists who claim that it is unsafe in drinking water, is linked to cancer and birth defects in humans, and causes feminization of amphibians. A robust scientific database of nearly 7,000 studies and favorable regulatory reviews from governments and independent agencies around the world support its safety. Atrazine passes the most stringent, up-to-date safety requirements in the world. The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) re-registered Atrazine in 2006 and began its review for re-registration in 2013.

Further information about atrazine can be found at www.savingtheoasis.com, www.atrazinefacts.com and www.atrazine.com.

Seeds

Is Syngenta involved in the production of seeds?

Seeds sales account for almost a quarter of Syngenta’s revenues. Our seed portfolio is one of the broadest in the industry including more than 200 product lines, and more than 6,800 varieties produced by around 38,000 seed suppliers around the world. We provide these seed suppliers with parent seeds of our proprietary seed varieties, which they grow and harvest before selling the harvested seeds back to us.

Our seed portfolio includes field crops - such as corn, soybean, rice and cereals - and vegetables. We have a significant market share across many of these crops and we are continually working to develop new and better seed varieties. 

What is the difference between traditional and modern plant breeding?

‘Traditional’ or ‘conventional’ breeding generally refers to plant breeding without the use of molecular biology or biotechnology. It involves the crossing of carefully chosen parent plants, then testing the resulting offspring plants and selecting the best to be grown on for further selection. Once the best lines have been selected, they are purified to create ‘inbred’ lines, in which every plant has the same characteristics. In hybrid crops, the purified inbred lines are called parent lines. Parent lines are crossed to produce hybrids. In non-hybrid crops, the inbred lines are the finished product, or ‘variety’.

‘Modern’ breeding generally refers to the use of molecular biology or biotechnology to discover and isolate the desired characteristics of plants – whether through marker assisted breeding or genetic modification. The use of modern breeding does not eliminate the need for the ‘create’, ‘test’, and ‘select’ breeding process steps required for traditional breeding, though modern breeding techniques such as marker assisted breeding and the use of double haploids can accelerate the breeding process.

What is marker-assisted breeding?

Marker-assisted (or molecular-assisted) breeding improves the efficiency with which breeders select plants with desirable combinations of genes, minimizing the long “wait and see” period in traditional plant breeding.

A molecular marker is a “genetic tag” that identifies a particular location within a plant’s DNA sequences. Plant breeders use genetic markers to identify the versions of specific genes associated with a desired trait. This allows them to predict and guide performance at early stages of development.

As the outcome of the breeding process is optimized at the gene level, breeders are therefore able to significantly speed up the process to develop plants with new properties that are beneficial to the consumer, such as improved taste, without incorporating undesirable foreign genes.

What is a hybrid crop?

Hybrid crops are crops that are produced by cross-pollinating two inbred plants. Most plants have both male and female parts and therefore fertilize themselves, however a hybrid is produced by taking the pollen from one plant and pollinating a different plant. The seeds from this cross-pollinated plant are hybrid seeds and produce a 'hybrid' crop.

Once the desired characteristics of a new hybrid crop have been identified, a breeder first develops a plan to create a male fertile paternal line and maternal line. Parent lines are carefully chosen so that the resulting hybrid variety combines the desired characteristics from each parent. The differences between parent lines create the basis for increased plant vigor, and ideally result in higher yields.

To create the parent lines, breeders make crosses among plants and select the most promising offspring for further selection and purification. The purified parent lines are ‘inbred’ lines in which every plant has the same characteristics. The breeder then makes crosses between the paternal and maternal lines, which results in the production of hybrid seed.

What is the problem with saving and replanting hybrid seeds?

Hybrids seeds are created through cross-fertilization of purified “inbred” lines, in which every plant has the same characteristics. Hybrid seeds are bred to improve specific attributes such as vigor. The seed produced by the second generation of the hybrid does not reliably produce a true copy of that hybrid. It will not have the same genetic make-up and characteristics as the plant from which it originated, often resulting in the loss of much of its yield potential.

Read more about Farm-saved seed (FSS) practices

What does Syngenta think about biofuels?

Biofuels are derived from biomass and offer a lower-carbon, renewable alternative to fossil fuels. We recognize that some stakeholders are concerned that increased demand will mean more crops will be grown for biofuels rather than food and animal feed.

We believe that efficient biofuels can help to address key global challenges of climate change and energy security. We research and develop crops that make biofuel production more efficient and help reduce competition for land. Syngenta’s ENOGEN®, the industry’s first output trait (altering the harvested crop) in corn, accelerates the conversion of starch to sugar in ethanol production.

Syngenta helps growers improve agricultural productivity and crop value to meet growing demand and reduce competition between food and fuel. When establishing biofuels policies, we believe that governments should strive to minimize this competition and discourage expansion onto ecologically valuable lands. 

 

Seedcare

What are seed treatments and why are they important?

Seed treatments are chemical or biological substances or physical processes applied to seeds or seedlings that help protect plants from insects and disease during critical growth stages, and improve seed quality (germination). Estimates suggest that around 80% of all plant problems are due to soil or root problems. The application of treatments to seeds promotes the development of stronger, healthier roots, leading to improved crop performance and greater resilience to conditions that may otherwise affect plant vigor. This results in improved plant health and increased yield.

Read more about seed treatment and our products

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