An Ooops, or Gonzo Marketing?

Crop production is big business.  Whether you farm several thousand acres, or keep a kitchen garden, your effort to produce plants places you in the enviable cause of helping to feed the 7 billion.  Right in line behind the folks in the fields there is a support industry manufacturing everything from equipment, fertilizers, pesticides, seeds, market analysis, transportation logistics, and more.  Food is big business.

An issue that has captured the imaginations of many non-agricultural folk revolves around the use of a class of insecticide that can harm honeybees if they are exposed to it.  Neonicotinoids, or neonics for short.  Cruiser seed treatment is a neonic, manufactured and marketed by Syngenta.  Here’s a paragraph about Cruiser from the fine folks at Syngenta:

Thiamethoxam is the active ingredient in the Helix XTra® and Cruiser® seed treatment insecticide brands and offers effective broad-spectrum pest protection on numerous crops around the world.  Thiamethoxam is a second generation neonicotinoid insecticide, belonging to the thianicotinyl subclass of chemistry, and possesses unique chemical properties.

There is plenty of controversy surrounding this class of chemicals, and if you’re curious, just pop ‘neonic’ into your favorite web search engine.  At the risk of oversimplifying – if you farm more than few acres and your livelihood depends upon crop production you likely have a sympathetic view concerning the merits of neonics.  On the other hand, if your livelihood does not depend upon crop production, and you think honeybees are the cutest you likely don’t have anything nice to say about neonics. [that might be enough to get Jeff to engage 🙂 ]

Syngenta and Bayer Crop Science both make and market neonics.  It might also be worth mentioning these are both European corporations (though Syngenta is in the process of becoming a Chinese corporation) and that presently neonics are not allowed to be used in Europe.  Both Syngenta and Bayer are involved in helping to safeguard pollinator habitat so that honeybees and other pollinators have more resources.  It’s a good thing to do, even if it looks like they’re just doing it to court favor.  And it would be a mistake to imagine these companies are just going around doing good things for pollinators without pointing to their efforts.  That would be silly.  And this is where the marketing message ‘Syngenta cares about pollinators’ gets interesting…

A news piece passed through the Ag Seed business magazine SeedWorld the other day.

The good folks who brought us this pollinator habitat. I’m not seeing a bee, but perhaps it’s too early.

The piece led off with a photo of nine people standing along side a sign about the pollinator habitat work they’re engaged in.  Nice enough.  But if you have a closer look at the hat being worn by the guy in the red shirt, second from the left… Pretty cool, no?

                                                              Say cheese – hey, does your hat really say ‘Cruiser’??

So I now have to wonder what the message is here.  Is this an oversight, or a deliberate attempt – a statement if you will.  Gonzo marketing.

The article under the photo is actually a pretty nice piece – it’s all about establishing pollinator habitat in agricultural environments where these refuges can cause concern if not done well.  Even if you already have a firm feeling in the neonic debate – for either side – the article is worth the several minutes to read.


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