2016 Annual Report


Message from CEO/Board Chair

Today’s farmers are utilizing plant science solutions that help them farm more sustainably, increase their productivity, and be accountable to the consumers whom they serve. We invite you to read our 2016 annual report, which showcases our commitment to helping farmers meet the global food security challenges ahead.

Promoted the Trade of Biotech Products at Multilateral Meetings

With biotech crops grown in increasing numbers in major agricultural exporting countries, it is essential that world leaders support sound, science-based trade policies for biotech products that do not inhibit innovation, development, technology transfer or capacity-building. After two years of intense preparation, CropLife International led the global industry delegation, comprised of over 40 individuals representing 15 countries from all agricultural regions of the world to bring that message to the 170 countries that are Party to the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety at their December 2016 meeting (COP/MOP-8). There, the Global Industry Coalition (GIC) served as an expert resource to the Parties while they took part in high-level regulatory and policy negotiations related to the guidance on environmental risk assessment, the use of socio-economic considerations in decision making, and the handling, transport, packaging and use of living modified organisms (LMOs) in trade. The GIC provided significant input into the intersessional meetings and the COP/MOP-8 negotiations and observed positive progress in a number of areas, ensuring that the transboundary movement of biotech products continues to protect biological diversity, while maintaining uninterrupted international trade and ensuring farmers have access to sustainable agricultural innovations.

Trained Farmers on Stewardship Best Practices

Ensuring that farmers are trained on the most environmentally sound and responsible methods for protecting their crops from pests is central for the plant science industry. In 2016, CropLife International partnered with the German sustainable development organization GIZ and the Vietnamese government on an initiative to train 15,000 Vietnamese rice farmers on Integrated Pest Management. It is the latest in a long-line of industry training initiatives, which have successfully trained more than 3 million people worldwide since 2005 to ensure continued responsible use of crop protection products.

In a further demonstration of the industry’s commitment to the responsible use of crop protection products, CropLife International also launched an e-learning tool in 2016 to help industry professionals learn about the International Code of Conduct for Pesticide Management. The tool is available in 14 languages and has already surpassed 6,000 users (including users from a sister tool created by CropLife Latin America). The Code is a voluntary standard for sound pesticide management practices, issued by the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization.

Reinforced the Role for Biotech at International Forum

As world leaders look to feed a growing population in a sustainable way amid environmental challenges and societal pressures, they must consider the immense potential that plant biotechnology can play in helping farmers in the developing world create sustainable food systems and improve nutritional benefits of the food they produce. In February 2016, roughly 500 participants, including CropLife International, its member companies and global network, discussed this topic at the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Biotech Symposium. The plant science industry participated in a 46-member private sector delegation at the forum and added its voice to the scientific and policy discussions between representatives of FAO member countries, intergovernmental organizations and other key stakeholders. Thus, the FAO confirmed its support for biotechnology in feeding current and future generations and announced its plans to host regional consultations with farmers around the world to continue discussing how agricultural biotechnologies could be adopted.

Affirmed Confidence in Crop Protection Products

CropLife International is dedicated to the protection of human health and the environment, while providing effective crop protection products for farmers to increase their agricultural productivity. In 2016, CropLife International members continued their voluntary commitment to manage potential risks posed by highly hazardous pesticides (HHPs) by individually reviewing their product portfolios to identify products that met the HHP criteria and to take measures to manage any HHP risks. This also included increasing capacity building efforts for risk management in developing countries. The plant science industry is encouraging the FAO and other stakeholders to help ensure all parties adhere to risk-based management measures for user and public safety and to build capacity for risk assessment in developing countries. The approach to HHPs is part of CropLife International’s overall commitment to work constructively with international organizations to ensure the responsible use of crop protection products around the world so farmers can maintain and improve their production.

Celebrated 20 Years of Plant Biotechnology

Adopted faster than any other tool in the history of agriculture, biotech crops are now grown on over 180 million hectares in 28 countries by over 18 million farmers who choose to plant them again each year because of their many environmental, social and economic benefits. In 2016, CropLife International and its global network celebrated the 20-year anniversary since the cultivation of the first biotech crops through its Table for Twenty campaign.



The communications campaign brought together nearly 500 allies and industry visionaries at more than 20 dinner dialogues in 16 countries to reflect on the technology’s successes and discuss how this innovative crop technology can address future food challenges. Notable guests such as World Food Prize Laureate and plant biotech innovator Dr. Marc van Montagu and Julie Borlaug as well as many government representatives, scientists, academics, farmers, and industry experts participated. CropLife International developed many communications resources for the campaign, including an award-winning microsite and posted videos and photos from the regional events to social media as well as tweeted from the @TableforTwenty handle.

Elevated the Conversation on Endocrine Disrupting Substances

With ongoing public discussion of endocrine disruptors, CropLife International launched EndocrineScienceMatters.org in 2016 to publicly discuss the latest science on key issues and how crop protection products are tested for potential endocrine-disrupting effects to confirm their safety. The website discusses important topics such as endocrine-related diseases, low-dose effects and sensitive windows of exposure and vulnerable populations, as well as the available scientific evidence which supports maintaining current testing and risk assessment approaches related to endocrine-disrupting chemicals, including crop protection products. Many epidemiologists, toxicologists and academics have provided their views on the website, calling for scientific balance into what has become a fiercely political and emotional debate. CropLife International also continues to play an important role as a private sector representative in international forums such as the United Nations’ voluntary Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management (SAICM) to work toward a risk-based regulatory environment for assessment of crop protection products.



Crop Protection

Conducted Research, Outreach on Improving Pollinator Health

Dick Rogers, the manager of the Bee Care Center Bee Health Research Program in Raleigh, North Carolina, opening bee hives to check for mites, Shafter, California.

Pollinators play a key role in agriculture, and the plant science industry is dedicated to supporting farmers as they adopt best co-existence practices between crop protection products and pollination services. In 2016, CropLife International identified opportunities to increase farmers’ knowledge about pollinators’ role with specific crops and to further promote best practices on pollinator stewardship. The Pollinator Task Force also started research into cocoa crops in Western Africa and provided resources to the India Pollinator Project, which is training farmers and beekeepers on the use of the BeeConnected app.

In addition, scientific experts from CropLife International member companies contributed to the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) 2016 report, which provided a more balanced perspective. The related report found no evidence that would indicate crop protection products have directly contributed to the longer-term pollinator colony losses in Europe or the United States.


Combated Counterfeit Crop Protection Products

The global trade in counterfeit crop protection products undermines the high production standards held by the crop protection industry and threatens the development of legitimate, safe products which are essential to achieving global food security. CropLife International works diligently on long-term solutions to ensure that the risks of producing, distributing and using counterfeit products are understood by global leaders and that actions are taken to avoid the use of illegal crop protection products. Acknowledging CropLife International as an important contributor, the United Nations’ Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute (UNICRI) released a report in April 2016 which educates experts on the current trends related to illicit crop protection products, including identifying the actors involved and supply chain vulnerabilities. The plant science industry also provided expertise to a White House joint strategic plan that directs the U.S. federal agencies tasked with the protection and enforcement of intellectual property rights on how they can support the global efforts in combating counterfeit products.


Plant Biotech

Developed Policy Guidance on Regulating Plant Breeding Innovations

Luis Martin, scientist for Syngenta at the Centro de investigacion de El Ejido, Almeria, Spain

As plant breeding innovations move from the lab to the greenhouse to the field, it is important that government regulators adopt consistent, science-based policies for regulating the resulting products so as not to stifle innovation and to ensure that advances in plant breeding can be utilized to increase food and feed production in a sustainable way. In 2016, CropLife International and the International Seed Federation (ISF) jointly contributed their expertise to the development of appropriate regulatory and policy frameworks for plant breeding innovations globally. In addition, the two industries worked together to develop several new policy and communications resources, including a consistent criteria policy paper for regulators to support discussions on when and how to regulate products using some newer breeding methods. The national seed and biotech associations also worked together to respond to governments looking to formalize their regulations on these products.


Called on China to Improve Ag Biotech Import Approvals Process

Despite its history of safe use and improved crop performance, regulatory review timelines for importing new biotech crops in China have significantly increased in recent years. This has created an unstable trade environment for which technology developers can no longer effectively plan, commercialize or respond to global market signals, ultimately impacting farmers and consumers who are denied the technology’s benefits.  By aligning with key partners within the global value chain and coordinating with exporting country governments around shared trade objectives, CropLife International continued its call for the Chinese government to improve the timeliness, predictability and transparency of its import approvals process. The plant science industry effectively coordinated its communications and advocacy efforts at multilateral and bilateral meetings and through ag/trade delegations throughout the year where stakeholders met with Chinese leaders and discussed the disruptive impact China’s unpredictable import approvals has on the free flow of trade of agricultural commodities, as well as stalling innovations from reaching farmers.



Recognized the Value of Intellectual Property

CropLife International’s members invest heavily in research and development to bring modern innovations to the marketplace that drive long-term agricultural productivity, environmental sustainability and rural development. Unfortunately, many countries around the world do not appreciate the role of intellectual property (IP) in this process, which can be discouraging to the public and private sector looking to invest in research and development. In 2016, CropLife International and its members worked with the relevant national associations and stakeholders in key markets to provide input into high-level policy discussions to demonstrate the tremendous socio-economic benefits that come from having stable IP protections in place.


Advanced Science-Based Regulatory Environments Globally

Challenges in the global plant biotechnology regulatory environment persisted throughout 2016 with complex political environments often creating unnecessary burdens on the regulatory approval process. This often resulted in unpredictable government policies, accompanied by increasing data requirements for risk assessments, and regulatory decisions not based on sound science. Despite this, some governments around the world continue to work toward advancing science-based decision-making, which will result in the streamlining of plant biotech regulation. CropLife International and its network enables a transparent and robust technical dialogue on the regulatory approval process by engaging with institutions and other organizations across governments, academia and industry to provide capacity building, outreach, and other avenues to exchange views and share science-based risk assessment tools. Improved regulatory systems remain a core priority of CropLife International, and it is committed to progressing the implementation of science-based regulatory frameworks.



Expanded the Plant Science Community on Social Media

Here are some of our best social media posts from 2016:


Celebrated Plant Scientists, Farmers in Global #FoodHeroes Campaign

From pests to diseases to ever-changing environmental and weather conditions, farmers depend on plant scientists for innovations that help protect our delicate food supply. In October 2016, CropLife International launched a yearlong communications campaign at the World Food Prize to celebrate and thank the “Food Heroes” around the world, from the plant scientists working behind the scenes to research and improve seed varieties, to the farmers working from dusk ‘til dawn in the fields. The #FoodHeroes campaign showcases photos of plant scientists, farmers, and the crops that they cultivate, and serves as the platform for CropLife International’s global network and partner organizations to share local stories of their Food Heroes throughout 2017. Follow the campaign on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram with the hashtag #FoodHeroes.


Tea farmer Yang Jiam Ping on his tea plantation near Meiling Road, Xihu District, China

Bayer consultant Chirene Jelbert, Irene Farm, Western Cape, South Africa.

Dr Celia Medina from the Crop Protection Cluster at the College of Agriculture , University of the Philippines, Los Banos, Philippines.

Dr. Michael Otim at the National Agricultural and Animal Research Institute (NaCRRI), Namulonge


Highlighted Careers in Agriculture Through #IamAg Social Media Campaign

In October 2016, Farming First, the global coalition for sustainable agricultural development of which CropLife International is a founding member, ran a social media advocacy campaign to encourage young people to pursue careers in agriculture. The #IamAg campaign encouraged those individuals within the agricultural sector who are younger than 35 to share their stories in social media using the #IamAg hashtag and the best stories were turned into personalized cartoons and used in videos for social media. The CropLife International global network participated in the campaign by sharing its many social media badges, infographics and other resources online.



Plant Science Industry Invests Heavily in Bringing New Crop Protection Products to Market

In 2016, Phillips McDougall, an independent consultant specializing in market analysis for the agrochemical industry, released a report detailing the cost and time of bringing a new crop protection product to market.




Plant Biotechnology Is Fastest Adopted Crop Technology in Agricultural History

In 2016, the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications (ISAAA) released its annual global biotech crop acreage report providing details on the global adoption of biotech crops from its inception two decades ago in 1996. Accumulatively, more than 2 billion hectares have been planted in the last two decades. In 2015, 18 million farmers in 28 countries planted 179.7 million hectares of biotech crops – more than a 100-fold increase from 1996. Read more in the ISAAA Brief 51.


ISAAA Brief 51-2015


Market Performance Numbers

Phillips McDougall provided preliminary market performance numbers for 2016 as of 1 March, 2017.