11 October 2000
Protests at formation of Syngenta

By FWi staff

PROTESTERS gather in London on Wednesday (11 October) to protest at the formation of the worlds largest agribusiness.

Syngenta will be formed if the merger of the agribusiness arms of Novartis and AstraZeneca goes ahead.

Opponents believe the company will wield too much influence and could threaten the livelihoods of millions of poor farmers.

Third World farmers who use Syngenta genetically modified technology could depend on company products to make them work, claims Actionaid.

The Guardian reports that Syngenta would own 42% of all “terminator” and “traitor” technology patents.

These allow plants to grow with sterile seeds or plants, which must be switched on by chemicals.

And the charity is unimpressed by AstraZenecas decision to make “golden rice” technology available at no cost to poor farmers to tackle Vitamin A blindness.

Actionaid says locally based projects to diversify diets would offer a better solution.

The Guardian asks why AstraZeneca is growing GM potatoes, at its Jealott Hill research station in Berkshire, which require chemicals to be activated.

the newspaper believes this is against United Nations guidelines because no research has been done into their social or ecological effects.

Meanwhile, the EU Commission has published new measures to deal with the presence of GM seed in conventional seed, reports BBC Farming Today.

Under these measures beet, maize, oilseed rape and soya, cotton and tomato will be tested if it is suspected there is a GM presence.