[Erik Fyrwald, Syngenta’s current CEO], joined Syngenta in 2016, after many years in senior management with US-based chemical companies, most recently as chief executive of Univar, a global chemicals distributor. The $44bn Chinese deal had been signed but not yet received regulatory approval. Now it is in the final straight, with ChemChina holding more than 98 per cent of Syngenta shares and completion expected before the end of 2017.
“China has been very slow to approve GM products for many years,” he concedes, but there are signs of change. Recently the Chinese government approved imports of some GM crop varieties and Mr Fyrwald expects approvals for cultivation in China to follow. The prospect for growing genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in Syngenta’s home continent are bleaker. “In Europe we are unlikely to see GM crops for many years to come,” he says, because the opposition from consumers and environmental groups is so intense.
“We’re not pushing GMOs. It is not our priority to spend money and effort to try to convince European consumers to encourage their politicians to start accepting GMOs,” Mr Fyrwald adds. “We’re better off providing GM technology in countries that want it.”
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