Page 1: Introduction
There are 6.7 billion people living on the planet and this number is expected to exceed 9 billion by 2050. The need for food for people, feed for animals and fuel for energy, such as for domestic heating, motor transport and industry is increasing. This means the world needs to produce more crops to meet the world's increasing demand:
- Global demand for cereals is likely to increase by a further 40% and global demand for meat by 60% in the next 40 years.
- Food production from existing agricultural land will need to double by 2050 to meet this demand.
- It is necessary to balance the demands of people and wild spaces by growing more on the same amount of agricultural land.
- Society needs to consider how to preserve biodiversity for the long-term good of the world whilst feeding its people.
The use of technology can help to provide answers to these problems.
Today the world's reserves of food, especially wheat and grain, are at their lowest point for 40-50 years in relation to the global population. Overall production is not meeting the increased demand. The increased demand and shortage of supply has led to rising food prices. Research and technology is essential to develop new crops and to increase crop yields. Technology is the application of science to create new products.
Syngenta's focus is on delivering sustainable agriculture through innovative research and technology. Syngenta is a leader in providing products to protect crops (herbicides, insecticides, fungicides) and is the third largest producer of seeds, for example, corn, wheat, soya, barley and rice. It had sales over $9.25 billion (around £4.6 billion) in 2007. Syngenta employs around 21,000 people in over 90 countries. Its response to the increasing demand for food, feed and fuel on a global scale has been to research and develop:
- agricultural products to improve crop yields for farmers. This affects crops for food, feed and fuel
- new seeds to grow better, pest-resistant, high yielding crops
Syngenta's product portfolio contains a range of different categories, for example, crop protection, seeds, professional products for sports venues and flowers.
Crop protection products protect agricultural yield and improve quality by controlling weeds and diseases. Syngenta also breeds crops which have higher yields.
This case study looks at how Syngenta, one of the world”s leading plant science businesses, is meeting this dual challenge of increasing crop yield and producing alternative fuels.