Feeding and fuelling the world through technology
A Syngenta case study

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Page 3: Social and legal factors

Social factors

Social factors relate to changes in the behaviour, tastes and lifestyles of communities on a local, national and international scale. Social factors Syngenta needs to take account of include:

  • growth of the global population. By 2020 about 93% of the increase in world population will occur in the developing world
  • changing diets - for example, more people worldwide eating meat
  • competition for land for growing crops
  • the rapid growth of the Chinese and Indian economies requiring large increases in food, feed and fuel
  • rising demand for more fuel in developed countries

Consumers drive the demand for food, feed and fuel. People across the world are changing their diets, for example, in Asia by eating more meat. However, 8 kilograms of plant food (e.g. corn or soya) fed to cattle will result in only 1 kilogram of beef. Farmers must increase their crop yields for feedstock to satisfy this increased demand for meat.

Syngenta's aim is to help produce crops that provide affordable quality food. These crops need to deliver their high yields reliably, ensuring that farmers get a good return on investment from buying Syngenta's technology. This benefits local communities and protects the environment and biodiversity.  Syngenta's scientists are developing plants that are both more water-efficient and produce a greater crop yield.

Another social change is the increasing demand for water. Agriculture is the biggest user of water and as the world”s population increases, so does the demand for water in agriculture, industry and domestic homes.

Legal factors

Legal factors relate to new laws or directives governing how businesses behave. This can be in relation to other businesses, customers or the environment. For example, it is essential that all agricultural products are used safely. Syngenta seeks to meet and exceed the requirements of local and international laws for all the countries within which it operates.

Syngenta also seeks to ensure the safety of wildlife and the environment. For example, it has created AXIAL, a herbicide for cereal crops. Syngenta has developed the product so that it leaves no harmful residues in the soil after use. This meets UK environmental laws.

Product protection

Syngenta registered the trademark for AXIAL in 2005 and also owns patents covering this technology. This gave it legal protection against copying by competitors. The trademark gave Syngenta a considerable advantage over rivals as it allowed it to be the sole producer of AXIAL for many years. This is important as it costs on average over $200 million (around £100 million) to invent and register a new chemical for crop protection use.

Similarly, Syngenta developed and registered AVICTA, a seed treatment for nematodes. Nematodes are microscopic worms that invade plant roots. In the USA they cause damage to cotton plants worth over $400 million (around £200 million) a year. Syngenta carried out field-testing to ensure that AVICTA complied with the USA's strict health and safety laws.

Syngenta | Feeding and fuelling the world through technology