How big pesticide reaches into every element of rural life in Australia


Like “big pharma” the global agricultural chemical companies run very sophisticated marketing and sponsorship networks that reach into almost every facet of rural life.

The agvet companies, as they are known, are major financial partners – whether it’s funding for the conferences of agricultural organisations such as Cotton Australia and the National Farmers’ Federation, or for university research and specialist advisory organisations such as WeedSmart.

German multinational Bayer, Swiss based Syngenta, Canadian based Nutrien, Adama (owned by Syngenta) US based Corteva (formerly Dow Dupont chemicals) and Australian company Nufarm contribute millions, if not billions, in support for rural activities.

They subsidise agronomists in rural towns. They provide scholarships at agricultural schools and fund farm safety programs.

They even fund government bodies, including – most controversially – providing 90% of the budget for Australia’s pesticides regulator , the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority, which operates on a user-pays basis.

What they do is not illegal. Some would say it’s philanthropy. But it raises questions about whether organisations advising farmers, universities conducting research into improving crops, and even the regulator would be prepared to bite the hand that feeds them when it comes to pesticide use.

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The Guardian, 7-10-22