How much do we trust the Chinese government? Apparently, Europeans and the stockholders of Syngenta trust the Chinese government completely.
The volume of articles that have been written about the acquisition of Syngenta by state-owned ChemChina since the announcement Wednesday, Feb. 3, has been huge. Every ag publication editor has been looking for their own angle to write about, but most of the content has been speculation because most companies and associations aren’t ready to make any official comments. Naturally, that includes CropLife America and the Agricultural Retailers Association, which both have Syngenta as a member or supporting member of the associations. What can they say in this early stage of ChemChina’s takeover?
There have been articles about whether Syngenta’s facilities being in the hands of China is a security threat to the U.S., the impact of the acquisition to feed the Chinese people, how U.S. farmers’ crop inputs will be affected, whether China is ready to plant more GMO crops based on Syngenta’s corn and soybean seed, whether the U.S. has the ability to voice concerns about antitrust issues and many more angles of articles.
As one editor noted, it was interesting that China approved the import of soybeans grown from Monsanto’s Roundup Ready 2 Xtend soybeans, which are GM beans tolerant to specific dicamba herbicide formulations, on the same day that the announcement of ChemChina acquiring Syngenta came out.
Also, remember it was China’s refusal to approve a specific Syngenta-traited corn (MIR 162) that resulted in lawsuits, which are still pending in U.S. courts, when the corn was rejected at Chinese ports. Those lawsuits will proceed against Syngenta.
My main question centers on how much favoritism will occur for Syngenta submissions for import approval to China compared to other GM,traited crops from competitive companies. The Chinese import approval has been a big hang-up for companies to start marketing new GM seeds and grains. Are we to trust the Communist government? We are to trust it, according to Syngenta Chief Operating Officer Davor Pisk.
In a news conference, he said, “In terms of future regulatory approvals, I don’t anticipate there being any impact. We will continue to try to satisfy the needs of Chinese regulators to the best of our ability. We have to work through the process that exists … There is one process, whether it be for Chinese-owned companies or foreign-owned companies.”
But Pisk also said he was optimistic that the lengthy approval process for GE crops could be streamlined in the future.
“I do hope that China will perhaps be more open to receiving input from Syngenta on how policies, including (those in the regulatory area), can evolve in the future,” he said. “I hope over time we may also be able to see a reduction in some of the points of friction and disagreements we have seen between the industry and the agricultural trade in the U.S. and in China.”
It has been widely known that the general population of China has been swayed against GM crops and food out of unfounded fear. Does Syngenta’s acquisition mean more government pressure on the Chinese people to just shut up and accept GM foods, especially those from its own state-owned corporation?
In the short term, it seems unlikely that U.S. ag retailers or farmers will notice much of a change in the competitive crop protection and seed businesses. What happens in the long term is still a big question.
And will U.S. farmers boycott doing business with a Chinese-owned company? No way! Product efficacy, price and service sway today’s farmer just like it has for decades. They have been buying Chinese-produced glyphosate for years.
And as noted day after day within the ag market, we are in the middle of a globalized economy where products are continuously sold to and purchased from dictator and undemocratic controlled countries.
China has been continually buying assets/companies around the world, of which Syngenta is only the latest. At some point, when China and the U.S. have a political difference, does China try to pull some shenanigans? I wouldn’t be surprised, but that will be another crop of stories to inspire dozens of articles by agricultural editors.