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Why is China buying the world's seeds?

Published: July 14, 2017
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Source: CNN

Two weeks ago, state-owned ChemChina finalized its $44 billion purchase of the Swiss pesticides and seeds giant, Syngenta. It was China's biggest foreign takeover of all time.

On Tuesday, Dow Chemical (DOW) announced that an agriculture fund backed by the Chinese government would pay $1.1 billion for its Brazilian corn seed and research business.

Chinese firms have spent $91 billion over the past decade purchasing nearly 300 foreign companies involved in agriculture, chemicals and food, according to Dealogic.

Why the massive spending spree?

Experts say the purchases are part of China's plan to improve its ability to supply food to its population of nearly 1.4 billion. As Chinese living standards improve and citizens demand more meat products, the country needs a growing supply of animal feed.

But China is contending with major challenges: An aging agricultural workforce, pollution, climate change and high levels of soil depletion, according to Rob Bailey, an expert in food security at policy institute Chatham House.

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