CIP Americas Policy Program http://www.cipamericas.org/archives/2442
The European biotechnology firm Syngenta and the International Center of Research for the Improvement of Corn and Wheat (CIMMYT) announced on April 6 that they will join forces to develop varieties of wheat, both conventional and GM. Syngenta, formed in 2000 with the merger of the agricultural divisions of Novartis and AstraZeneca, is the second largest pesticide company in the world and ranks third in the global seed market (topped only by the American firms Monsanto and Dupont).
CIMMYT, located in Mexico and founded by the Mexican government and the Rockefeller Foundation in 1943, a public sector international agricultural research center that played a very important role in the so-called “green revolution”, the name given to the export of the American model of industrial monoculture to poor developing countries promoted by, among others, the World Bank, the Rockefeller Foundation, the government of the US, and the UN.
“Wheat is a key crop for Syngenta; this partnership will strengthen the company’s global presence and reinforce its position as a leader in the worldwide commercial wheat seeds market”, declares Syngenta in a media release. “This market is expected to increase in value as new technologies are introduced. For CIMMYT, the partnership will strengthen its ability to use world wheat genetic resources and cutting-edge technologies to develop robust wheat varieties for disadvantaged farmers in developing countries and public research systems worldwide”.
Syngenta was the object of harsh international criticism after guards from a private firm that it contracted shot into a camp of the Landless Movement of Brazil, wounding several occupants and killing one. The camp, located in the Brazilian state of Paraná, was on a farm where Syngenta had been illegally growing GM corn.
CIMMYT, for its part, has been questioned by sectors of civil society for its apparent indifference to the contamination of traditional Mexican corn with GM varieties. CIMMYT does not oppose GM crops. In fact, along with Monsanto and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, it is developing GM corn varieties resistant to drought for use in Africa – Project WEMA (Water-Efficient Maize for Africa).