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Seeds and patents

Documentation "Agropoly" Public Eye Syngenta holds shares in other seed- (green), pharamceutical and chemical companies (white)

Legend: holds shares in other seed companies (dashed green line), acquisitions of other seed companies (continuous green arrow). Syngenta came into being through the fusion of the agricultural branch of the pharmaceutical and chemical companies Novartis and Astra-Zeneca (white).

Countless acquisitions have enabled Syngenta to develop into the third largest corporation in the seed industry.

The three largest seed companies currently control half of the global market. To give a concrete illustration: one in every seven tomatoes originates from Syngenta, the Basel-based agribusiness giant. As the market leaders' activities continue to embrace more and more areas, lucrative synergies are created – for example, between seeds and chemical plant protection products.

Non-governmental organisations, governments and farmers' and breeders' associations have been defending themselves for years against the possibility of patenting crops and useful plants. Patents monopolise the food market, and deprive breeders of the option of free access to plant material for their ongoing breeding activities. This impedes innovation and consequently, jeopardises the reliability of our food supplies in the long term. Because more and more conventionally bred plants are also being patented, this problem has gained in momentum and relevance over recent years.

Read more about this problem in our Seeds file