Syngenta, the new company formed by the merger of Novartis Agribusiness and Zeneca Agrochemicals, wants farmers to think of it as a new ally in their fight to return to profitability.

"Like the farmers we serve, Syngenta is focused solely on agriculture," says Bob Woods, president of Syngenta Corp., United States. "The Syngenta vision is to deliver better food to a better world through outstanding crop solutions. Our ag-only focus will help us realize that vision."

At its launch, Syngenta became the world's largest company dedicated solely to agribusiness and the market leader in each region it serves, according to company spokesmen. In 1999, Syngenta had global sales of over $7 billion and sales of $2.5 billion in North America.

"Syngenta is dedicated to helping growers get the full potential from everything they grow," said Heiri Gugger, president and CEO, Syngenta Crop Protection, North America.

"This means working closely with our channel partners in offering increasingly tailored, innovative products in all areas; maintaining a strong research pipeline; and continuing to focus on grower needs and the demands of the entire feed and food chain."

Woods and Gugger spoke at an Internet press conference in which they discussed the implications of the merger.

During the conference, they also announced the formation of the Syngenta Rural FoodShare initiative, a program that will donate $500,000 in 2001 to America's Second Harvest and the Canadian Association of Food Banks.

"At Syngenta, we're dedicated solely to agribusiness and committed to creating a safe, high-quality food supply," said Woods. "Yet we recognize that even in the heart of North America, too many families don't know where their next meal is coming from.

"With this contribution, we want to focus attention on rural hunger and take steps to help alleviate hunger in the communities that play a crucial role in producing food for Americans and others around the world," he added.

The funds provided by Syngenta will be used to distribute about 15 million pounds of food to hungry families across rural North America. The donation will help insure that rural communities have access to a variety of nutritious foods donated by growers, processors and manufacturers.

"Despite a strong economy and the productivity of North America agriculture, one in 10 households in rural America faces hunger every day," said Deborah Leff, president and CEO, America's Second Harvest. "The Syngenta donation will increase the amount of food available to hungry people in rural communities.

"The Syngenta Rural FoodShare initiative also will increase awareness of the issue of hunger in rural North America," added Leff. "We hope it will encourage others to become involved to help us fill this need."

Following the merger, Syngenta is marketing a broad range of crop protection products, including brands such as Touchdown, Gramoxone, Discover, Dual II Magnum and Bicep II Magnum herbicides, Force insecticide and Quadris fungicide.

"Our product portfolio meets most producers' total crop protection needs," Gugger said. "By providing both selective and non-selective herbicides, we will give them more options for protecting yield and quality. We have the broadest range of fungicides in the business and a wide selection of insecticides for both foliar and soil applications."

In North America, Syngenta will market seed brands, including NK seeds, S&G flowers, Rogers vegetable products and Hilleshog sugarbeet products.

"We intend to improve the profitability of our customers by integrating traditional plant breeding with emerging technologies such as biotechnology. Seeds will be the delivery vehicle for these innovative solutions," said Ed Shonsey, president and CEO, Syngenta Seeds, North America.

"A key outcome will be our ability to meet the diverse needs, demands and expectations of growers and consumers - with high-quality products and continued research and development," he said.