Hello,

We noticed you're browsing in private or incognito mode.

To continue reading this article, please exit incognito mode or log in.

Not a subscriber? Subscribe now for unlimited access to online articles.

Business Impact

In a Move to Acquire Syngenta, China Means Business with GM Crops

A state-owned chemical corporation’s $43 billion proposed acquisition reflects the country’s sizable concerns about food security.

Behind the biggest-ever foreign acquisition by a Chinese firm is one of the most daunting challenges the country faces: it must secure its food supply and feed 1.5 billion people despite a shortage of viable farmland. Today's announcement that state-owned ChemChina plans to spend $43 billion to purchase Syngenta, the Swiss firm that makes pesticides and seeds, is an acknowledgement that technology—in particular genetically modified crops—will be needed to achieve that.

China has been a net food importer since 2008, and agricultural yields have been flat for a decade and a half after tripling between the 1960s and 1990s. The country is home to 21 percent of the world’s population but less than 10 percent of the globe’s arable land. And much of it is in bad shape thanks to soil contamination. Climate change threatens to eat further into agricultural yields.

The pressure to produce more food is driving a massive domestic research effort to investigate and develop GM crop technology. And President Xi Jinping has called on his country to “boldly research and innovate, [and] dominate the high points of GMO techniques.” Purchasing one of the world’s dominant agriculture technology companies, then, is more than just a business deal.

Syngenta headquarters in Basel, Switzerland.

(Sources: Bloomberg, Reuters, The New Yorker)

AI and robotics are changing the future of work.  Are you ready?  Join us at EmTech Next 2019.

Register now
Syngenta headquarters in Basel, Switzerland.
More from Business Impact

How technology advances are changing the economy and providing new opportunities in many industries.

Want more award-winning journalism? Subscribe to Print + All Access Digital.
  • Print + All Access Digital {! insider.prices.print_digital !}*

    {! insider.display.menuOptionsLabel !}

    The best of MIT Technology Review in print and online, plus unlimited access to our online archive, an ad-free web experience, discounts to MIT Technology Review events, and The Download delivered to your email in-box each weekday.

    See details+

    12-month subscription

    Unlimited access to all our daily online news and feature stories

    6 bi-monthly issues of print + digital magazine

    10% discount to MIT Technology Review events

    Access to entire PDF magazine archive dating back to 1899

    Ad-free website experience

    The Download: newsletter delivered daily

/3
You've read of three free articles this month. for unlimited online access. You've read of three free articles this month. for unlimited online access. This is your last free article this month. for unlimited online access. You've read all your free articles this month. for unlimited online access. You've read of three free articles this month. for more, or for unlimited online access. for two more free articles, or for unlimited online access.