Greenwashing Syngenta-Style – Berne Declaration Finds Company’s CSR Report Misleading

Basel und Zürich, 22.04.2008 - At today’s general assembly of Syngenta, the Berne Declaration presents „Glaring Contradictions between Appearance and Reality“, an evaluation of the Corporate Social Responsibility Report of the Basel-based agrochemical company. The verdict is sobering: Syngenta clearly fails key criteria of the Global Reporting Initiative such as reliability, balance, or clarity. The CSR report does nothing to restore the battered image of the company that produces the notorious paraquat pesticide.

A new study ordered by Syngenta confirms an old problem: users in developing countries cannot protect themselves adequately from the dangers of pesticides. The rate of poisoning is high: 19% of the users in the survey had a minor poisoning incident (self medication) in the previous year, 6% had to see a doctor and 1% were hospitalized. Syngenta is aware of these appalling conditions but continues to market highly toxic pesticides such as paraquat to these countries. The same is true in the field of biofuels. Instead of doing the responsible thing in the light of the latest findings, the company follows the market und continues to produce first generation biofuels (e.g. from corn) even as it jeopardizes the food supply, especially in poorer countries.

But the questionable policies of the Basel-based corporation are not restricted to its core business. The Berne Declaration also criticizes the chartering of wholly owned insurance companies in tax havens such as Bermuda or Liechtenstein. Through these vehicles of aggressive tax evasion Syngenta drains precious revenues from countries where actual value is produced.

None of this has made it into Syngenta’s CSR report. As the Berne Declaration shows in its evaluation, most of what is reported there is generic and meaningless. Source information is withheld throughout. Calculation methods are configured to produce the desired results, and the assumptions underlying estimates are not disclosed. Also, Syngenta provides no clearly defined, quantifiable goals, nor deadlines by which they will be met to measure and improve its corporate responsibility. „Syngenta still does not understand that it needs to improve its corporate responsibility. At this rate the company will be stuck with a bad reputation for years to come“, mused François Meienberg of the Berne Declaration

Download the full BD report „Glaring Contradictions Between Appearance and Reality“.