The Basel-based chemicals giant Syngenta has reported an 11% profit loss in 2013 and has announced cost-saving measures of $1 billion (CHF904 million) per year through 2018 as a result. The loss was mainly due to declines in the company’s seed business.
In October of last year, Syngenta had warned that its profits would be down for the year because of a $170 million write-down on seed stocks.
“Our financial performance in 2013 did not meet expectations,” said Chief Executive Mike Mack in a statement.
“While this was mainly due to non-recurring costs in our seeds business, we are determined to intensify our focus on cost and capital efficiency while maintaining our ambitious growth objectives," he added.
To recoup its losses, the company announced cost-cutting measures for the next five years.
Although its profits fell, Syngenta’s 2013 sales rose 5% to $14.69 billion. The company’s long-term goal is to increase sales to $25 billion by 2020.
Pepper patent problems
On Monday, a group of 34 NGOs filed an opposition against Syngenta’s patenting of an insect resistance that comes from a wild pepper. The group stated that such patenting of a resistance already present in nature is unethical and could put the global seed market in the hands of too few, ultimately posing a food security risk.
The patent, granted by the European Patent Office in May 2013, covers most European countries and means that the pepper in question may no longer be used for breeding by any person or entity except Syngenta.
The protesting organisations also called more generally for patent offices to stop granting patents for plants that were produced through natural selection.
swissinfo.ch and agencies