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Syngenta speaks at the Biotech & Agriculture Summit



On April 28 2009, Chris Allen, Head of Seeds BD, Syngenta APAC was invited to the 2nd Biotechnology and Agriculture Summit 2009 organized by the Beijing Municipal Science & Technology Commission, where he made a keynote speech entitled “How will the seed industry survive and thrive?” The summit, with a focus on seed industry and biotechnology, brought together over 200 delegates from government, academic institutes, local and multinational companies, as well as media in China.


Last year, Martin Clough, Head of Biotech R&D was invited to deliver a keynote speech, which received overwhelmingly positive feedback, and positioned Syngenta as a global leader in the agricultural sector. This year, the event attracted even more attention, with the Chinese government seeking to ensure food security amid the global economic slowdown, setting up ambitious targets and investing considerably in agricultural infrastructure and technology platforms.


Chris was the first and the only one from industry to speak in the plenary session, following Joseph Jen, Former Under Secretary of the U.S. DOA, Clive James, Founder of the ISAAA, and Rongcai Ma, Deputy Director, Beijing Bureau of Agriculture. He opened his remarks by highlighting the emerging challenges faced by Chinese agriculture - growing population and urbanization versus declining water and land resources. “Agriculture has a critical role to play in helping addressing the global financial crisis (GFC) by achieving food security,” he stressed, calling for attention to the other GFC of equivalent importance – global FOOD crisis.


"We have to do more with less to ensure maximized efficiency and sustainability, because by 2030 each hectare of agricultural land will need to feed at least one extra person than it does now,” Chris said. “And the answers lie in the effective use of agricultural technologies and the development of optimized farming systems of which biotechnology must play a part.”


Chris pinpointed the uniqueness of Syngenta as a leading global company committed to providing the full breadth of inputs – from research and development, to technology and traits, seeds and seed care, crop protection products, extension services and stewardship. He also emphasized the responsibility held by Chinese numerous seed companies in bringing benefits to farmers and consumers through technology innovation, and more importantly, collaboration with stakeholders.


Chris’ remarks were echoed by a number of speakers during the following two-day session. Mr. Jiancheng Shao, Deputy Director, Biosafety & IP Office, Science & Education Department under the Chinese Ministry of Agriculture, in his speech, recognized biotechnology as an inevitable core technology for agricultural development. “Around the world, GM technology has demonstrated significant potentials in addressing environmental stresses, protecting ecosystem, and ensuring food security, thus is proven to be an essential part of future agriculture,” he said. Mr. Shao also introduced “active research, application promotion, standardized management and scientific development” as the principle for advancing agricultural biotech in China.


His message was reinforced by another Syngenta speech on the second day. Xun Wang, Head of Biotech R&D for APAC, and Syngenta Biotech China, gave a talk on “developing drought-tolerant crops to in facing climate change”, in which he explained how Syngenta’s advanced solution combining GM and non-GM technologies can help address the imminent challenges of water shortage and extreme weather conditions in China and worldwide.


Collaboration was the underlining message of every speaker, and Syngenta was frequently recognized as an example of successful private-public partnership. The summit itself was a manifestation of growing recognition of technology and collaboration as enablers of sustainable growth and lasting prosperity. The gathering of policy makers, industrial players and public academics presented a timely opportunity to address the shared concerns of agriculture industry, which was “the first step in the ‘Long March’ that will create tremendous opportunities and significant benefits,” as commented by Dr. Clive James in his closing remarks.


Syngenta also received good exposure through exhibition, profile page in the program book, posters at the main entrance, and a group media interview.