Chinese Government Buys Syngenta: Massive Pesticide, Biotech, Pharma Mergers


By Cassius Kamarampi

China National Chemical (ChemChina) is a chemical corporation owned by the Chinese government. Syngenta is one of the world’s largest producers of pesticides, GM technology, seeds, and other biotech products similar to Monsanto or Bayer Crop Science.

ChemChina has been bidding for Syngenta for a few months now, seeking to take the corporation out from the hands of Novartis, the world’s largest pharmaceutical corporation, which owns Syngenta and created Syngenta out of  corporate mergers in 2000.

Now a powerful U.S. panel has approved of the deal: ChemChina is set to purchase Syngenta for $43 billion.

A recent article from the Wall Street Journal reads:

State-owned ChemChina’s planned purchase of Syngenta, which supplies about one-fifth of the world’s pesticides and about 10% of soybean seeds to U.S. farmers, would rank as Beijing’s biggest-ever overseas deal.”

“The Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S., or CFIUS, a Treasury-led panel that can scotch mergers over national-security concerns, has approved multibillion-dollar deals putting swaths of U.S. food production under Chinese ownership in the past three years.”

Syngenta was created out of a merger between Novartis Agribusiness and Zeneca Agrochemicals. AstraZeneca is another one of the world’s largest pharmaceutical corporations, and peering into their history perfectly illustrates how “big pharma” is composed of the same players as “big agriculture.”

Novartis was formed in 1996 as a massive merger between Sandoz Pharmaceuticals, creators of LSD and Ritalin, and thecorporation Ciba-Geigy.

Aptly put by Wikipedia:

Novartis International AG is a Swiss multinational pharmaceutical company based in Basel, Switzerland, ranking number one in sales (57.9 billion US$) among the world-wide industry in 2013. In July 2015, Novartis had a market-cap of around $280 billion making it the largest healthcare company by this metric.”

Well phrased by corporate power watching website Source Watch:

“The top biotechnology companies are Monsanto, DuPont, Syngenta and Bayer. (Syngenta is a subsidiary of parent companies AstraZeneca and Novartis. Aventis‘ agribusiness division was bought out by Bayer.) They account for almost 100% of the genetically engineered seed and 60% of the global pesticide market.”

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Novartis may now be considered the center-stage pharma/agrochemical octopus of the world, powerful enough to manipulate entire countries into countering generic sales of their patented cancer drugs, as demonstrated by an incident in Columbia.

A U.S. Senator threatened to cut off financial aid to Columbia on behalf of Novartis, because they did not want to see a generic version of their expensive cancer drug Gleevec approved.

According to The Intercept:

Leaked diplomatic letters sent from Colombia’s Embassy in Washington describe how a staffer with the Senate Finance Committee, which is led by Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, warned of repercussions if Colombia moves forward on approving the cheaper, generic form of a cancer drug.

The drug is called imatinib [Gleevec]. Its manufacturer, Novartis, markets the drug in
Colombia as Glivec. The World Health Organization’s List of Essential Medicines last year suggested it as treatment not only for chronic myeloid leukemia, but also gastrointestinal tumors. Currently, the cost of an annual supply is over $15,000, or about two times the average Colombian’s income.

Paralleling the incomprehensibly powerful merger of Bayer and Monsanto announced earlier this year, this Chinese acquisition of Syngenta is truly telling.

In this business world, people talk about Syngenta as if it is an inherent enemy to its competitors BASF, or Bayer, but the history of merger making, deal cutting corporations tells a different story.

These corporations that appear to be in competition sometimes completely let down the curtain, and it can be difficult to discern actual competitors from potential allies.

Could this hint at Novartis’ intent to align itself with China, in opposition to the U.S./NATO? That might be a possibility, considering how China is becoming more firmly aligned with Russia over Syria.

U.S. officials were expressing concern over the Chinese purchase several months ago, but now this CFIUS panel seems to have turned the tide. Perhaps the war hawks in Washington don’t have a problem with Novartis or ChemChina.

Please share this with as many people as possible: if you feel inspired, research these powers that exist in plain sight. These power players make decisions that affect all of us.


This article (Chinese Government Buys Syngenta: Massive Pesticide, Biotech Mergers) via NB is free and open source. You have permission to republish this article under a Creative Commons license with attribution to Era of

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