This article was published as part of the launch of DeSmog’s Agribusiness Database, where you can find a record of companies and organisations’ current messaging on climate change, lobbying around climate action, and histories of climate science denial.
“Like a pandemic, climate change is an inevitable threat that we must address before it is too late,” reads a June 2020 statement. “As the economy and agriculture begin to build back with the gradual easing of the COVID-19 restrictions, we need to support a recovery for farmers that puts the fight against climate change and biodiversity loss at its core.”
The speaker? Not Greta Thunberg, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez or Al Gore. Not, in fact, any environmentalist you might care to imagine. Instead, it was Erik Fyrwald, Chief Executive Officer of Syngenta Group — one of the world’s five largest pesticides manufacturers, a major consumer of fossil fuels, and now a company marketing its products as a solution to climate change.
Syngenta’s messaging — alongside similar campaigns from the other “big five” global pesticides producers Bayer, BASF, Corteva and FMC — reflects a sudden transformation within the agricultural world.
After decades of denial and delay by big agribusiness, the pesticides industry now appears to have become a climate champion.
‘Waking up on climate change’
The pesticides market is dominated by a small handful of companies — Bayer (which acquired Monsanto in 2018), Corteva (formerly Dow and DuPont), Syngenta, BASF and FMC — whose hazardous products a United Nations report said have “catastrophic impacts on the environment, human health, and society as a whole” amid a global insect die-off and legal battles over carcinogenic effects of products once marketed as harmless.
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