In a move that the Syngenta boss says is “in no way linked to Syngenta’s business objectives,” CEO Erik Fyrwald recently called for an abandonment of organic farming to focus on increased yields to avert rising global food insecurity. The solution, in his view, is for rich countries to improve yields to better feed the world.
“The indirect consequence is that people are starving in Africa because we are eating more and more organic products,” Fyrwald said.
Kilian Baumann, a Bernese organic farmer and president of the Swiss Small Farmers’ Association, said Fyrwald’s thinking is “grotesque”—motivated by “fighting for sales” as farmers use fewer pesticides.
“It’s not organic farming but our hunger for meat that promotes greater use of land,” Baumann said. “Animal feed is grown on 43% of Swiss arable land and we still import 1.2 million tons a year.”
Fyrwald’s rationale is that organic farming requires more land and that ploughing increases CO2 emissions. He recommends a third way—a “regenerative” farming model using crop rotation and GM seeds and pesticides for higher yields.