Syngenta follows WTO GM ruling with strong results
comes just days after the WTO ruled that the EU was wrong to bar
entry to GM crops and foods.
The healthy results suggest that the Swiss biotech giant could therefore be well placed to benefit from a more relaxed regulatory environment towards genetic modification (GM) in the Europe.
"In 2005, Syngenta delivered another year of growth across the business," said chief executive Michael Pragnell.
"In crop protection, continued new product momentum helped to drive market share gains and reinforced our leadership position, notably in the USA; Eastern Europe once again delivered double digit growth and in Latin America performance was robust despite more challenging conditions in Brazil."
Seeds sales rose by 42 per cent, up nine per cent excluding acquisitions. Crop protection sales in Europe also improved in the fourth quarter after a coldearly season followed by drought in southern Europe, while Eastern Europe maintained its record of double-digit growth.
"2005 marked the fifth anniversary of Syngenta and during the year we further reinforced our leadership position with share gains in crop protection, expansion in field crop seeds and progress in our consumer-led businesses of vegetables seeds and professional products," said Pragnell.
"Looking ahead, the strength of the business and our exciting pipeline products enable us to plan additional expenditure in marketing and product development and, for the three years through 2008, target double digit growth in earnings per share."
But despite the healthy figures and landmark WTO decision, Syngenta, and other biotech companies, still faces an uphill task in convincing European consumers about the safety and desirability of GM food. Public opinion in Europe is still firmly against GM, and the WTO ruling will probably not lead to an increase in GM imports in the short term.
But trade sources argue that the ruling is still vitally important because it sends a message to other WTO members, which have been taking a similar line to that of the EU, and could now face legal action. In other words, the WTO ruling may prove more symbolic than effective.
The WTO agreed with the United States, Argentina and Canada that an effective moratorium on GMO imports between June 1999 and August 2003 had been put in place. The pro-GM nations argued these prohibitions were not scientifically justified and thus contrary to WTO rules.
Both sides now have one week to ask the panel for a review of the interim report. The period of review must not exceed two weeks. During that time, the panel may hold additional meetings with the two sides.
A final report submitted to the two sides will become the Dispute Settlement Body's ruling or recommendation, unless a consensus rejects it. Having lost, the EU must follow the recommendations of the panel report or the appeals report. It must state its intention to do so at a Dispute Settlement Body meeting held within 30 days of the reports adoption.