FMC

Background

FMC is a Philadelphia, Pennsylvania-based pesticides manufacturer that was founded in 1883. It is the smallest of the “big five” pesticides manufacturers. In 2019, its revenues were a little over $4.6 billion. It has 6,400 employees worldwide, including 1,600 in the US. [1], [2], [3]

The pesticides market is heavily consolidated, with the five largest firms combined controlling nearly 70% of market share worldwide. “The agrochemicals industry is more consolidated following several recent mergers of the leading crop protection companies, which now include FMC, ChemChina (owners of Syngenta and Adama), Bayer AG (acquired Monsanto in 2018), BASF AG and Corteva Agriscience (the agricultural division of former DowDuPont, spun out in June 2019),” FMC notes in its 2019 10-K. “These five companies currently represent approximately 68% of the crop protection industry’s global sales.” [4]

The firm owns 26 manufacturing plants worldwide. One quarter of its 2019 revenue came from North America, a quarter from Asia, 31% from Latin America, and 22% from Europe, Middle East and Africa combined. [5]

Its recent spin-offs and acquisitions have helped to turn the chemical company into a firm focused exclusively on pesticides and crop protection. In 2017, FMC acquired DuPont Crop Protection and spun off their former lithium segment, FMC Lithium (now known as Livent Corp.)  FMC is most heavily involved in making insecticides, which represent 60% of FMC’s sales. [5]

Stance on Climate Change

In its Policies and Statements section of its website, FMC writes, “we are concerned about the consequences of climate change and will take prudent and cost-effective actions that reduce Green House Gas (GHG) [sic] emissions to the atmosphere.” [6]

Later in its policy, FMC states that “future GHG regulatory requirements may result in increased costs of energy, additional capital costs for emissions control or new equipment, and/or costs associated with cap and trade or carbon taxes.” [6]

Linda Froelich, Director of Corporate Sustainability at FMC, said in a 2019 statement that “with increasing threats from climate change, it is critical that we focus on ways to help mitigate the impacts of unpredictable weather patterns, rising sea levels and increasing global mean temperatures, which can all have a long-term impact on our business”. [7]

“At FMC, we are committed to delivering sustainable innovations to help growers defend against destructive insects, invasive weeds and the threat of disease,” Mark Douglas, president and chief executive officer of FMC, said in a press release on issuing its 2020 sustainability report. “The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the importance of food security and we take our role in supporting growers very seriously,” he said. [8]

In 2017, FMC received an A- rating from the CDP (formerly the Carbon Disclosure Project). In its 2018 CDP disclosure, FMC said that sustainability was “integrated into our innovation, operations, and business practices,” and claimed that it was “actively addressing major global challenges like climate change, scarce resources, land competition, food and health expectations and environmental consciousness.” [9], [10]

In July 2020, CEO Mark Douglas spoke with IHS Markit where he said, “sustainability must play an integral role in every aspect of the enterprise. It is not good enough to develop a sustainability strategy that merely resides on the sidelines. To be impactful to the organisation - where it can really make a difference throughout all aspects of the company - sustainability must be ingrained in the company's culture and seamlessly flow throughout how the company is run.” [11]

FMC markets its Arc Farm Intelligence system as “an exclusive precision agriculture platform.” Arc Farm, it says, collects real-time data from farms and uses predictive modeling to anticipate where farms are likely to experience insect and other pest issues. “Our first offering under the Arc™ farm intelligence platform utilizes aggregated historical data, entomological models, hyper-local weather data, and real-time regional pest mapping to increase a grower's confidence when making insect management decisions,” Sara Sterling, Director of Precision Agriculture at FMC, said in a statement as pilot programs in Brazil, Spain and the US were announced in May 2020. [12]

In June 2020, FMC launched FMC Ventures, a venture capital arm targeting strategic investments in agricultural tech start ups. [13]


Read more: Digital and Precision Agriculture – Criticisms and Concerns


The company's messaging on climate change has not always been supportive of the science. In 2008, FMC was mentioned in an article by the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) about the US Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) findings that emissions from global warming would endanger public health and welfare in the US. The UCS quoted FMC’s response to the EPA, where it said: “The current state of scientific knowledge on the contribution of human-caused climate change is so profoundly uncertain that it is not clear, even when using the data and sources that the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and EPA rely on, whether there will be global warming or global cooling over the course of the twenty-first century.” [14]

FMC also featured in a 2012 report by the Union of Concerned Scientists titled “A Climate of Corporate Control: How Corporations Have Influenced the U.S. Dialogue on Climate Science and Policy”. The report suggested that the FMC “took steps to spread misinformation on climate science and oppose policy efforts,” and was included in a list of those that “were inconsistent in regard to their statements about climate change”. The company was also deemed as “obstructionist” in a table, along with large fossil fuel companies like Peabody Energy Corporation and Tesoro Corporation. [15]

Role in Pesticides Controversy

FMC’s products “include herbicides (Authority, Command, Gamit), insecticides (Talstar, Hero) and active ingredients used in insect control (Rynaxpyr and Cyazypr). FMC also makes biologicals such Quartzo and Presence bionematicides,” according to business analytics company Dun and Bradstreet, which add that “[i]nternational operations account for about 75% of company's total sales.” [2]

FMC projected that its probable environmental liabilities tally over a half-billion dollars in its 2019 securities filings. Significant lawsuits listed include: litigation over clean up of the world’s largest elemental phosphorus plant, near Pocatello, Idaho; remediation at a Middleport, NY plant that formerly manufactured arsenic; and 30 other sites on the Superfund National Priorities List where FMC is listed as a Potentially Responsible Party. “Current reserves relating to our ongoing litigation and environmental liabilities may ultimately prove to be inadequate,” FMC’s 2019 10-K discloses. [4]

A February 2020 investigation by Greenpeace’s Unearthed found that “close to half (41%) of the leading products of the agrochemical giants BASF, Bayer, Corteva, FMC and Syngenta contained at least one” highly-hazardous pesticide. “Of the $13.4bn of sales by the CropLife companies in the dataset, $4.8bn went on chemicals found by regulatory agencies to pose hazards like acute poisoning or chronic illness in people, or high toxicity to bees and other wildlife,” Unearthed reported. [16]

Lobbying

According to LobbyFacts.eu, FMC spent between €50,000 - €99,999 on EU lobbying in 2019 on issues including: [17]

  • Plant protection products legislation
  • Sustainability and IPM
  • Agriculture and PAC
  • Food legislation
  • Food safety

According to OpenSecrets.org data, FMC spent $804,283 in total on US lobbying expenditures on issues relating to: Trade, Agriculture, the Chemical Industry, the Federal Budget and Appropriations, the Environment and Superfund, Tariffs, and Natural Resources. Since 2010, FMC has lobbied the following agencies: [18]

Affiliations

FMC is a member of CropLife International which has six member companies: FMC, BASF, Bayer, Corteva Agriscience, Syngenta and Sumitomo Chemical. It is also a member of the American Chemistry Council. [19]

LobbyFacts.eu shows that FMC is affiliated with the European Crop Protection Association and AmCham EU, the US Chamber of Commerce’s European outlet. The US Chamber of Commerce has strong associations with the fossil fuel industry and organisations such as the Global Climate Coalition, which spread disinformation on climate change throughout the 1990s. FMC is also a member of the UK's Crop Protection Association. [17], [20]

Resources

  1. Pesticides: Competitive Analysis & Leadership Report 2018 – Bayer Ranks Number One, Followed by Syngenta, BASF, DowDuPont, and FMC Corporation,” PR Newswire, February 3, 2020. Archived November 10, 2020. Archive.fo URL: https://archive.fo/3PDoU

  2. FMC Corporation,” Dun and Bradstreet. Archived November 10, 2020. Archive.fo URL: https://archive.fo/d9bDs

  3. FMC: Number of Employees 2006 – 2020,” MacroTrends. Archived November 10, 2020. Archive.fo URL: https://archive.fo/dQsy6

  4. FMC Corporation Delivers Strong Fourth Quarter and Full-Year Results,” Last10k.com, February 28, 2020. Archived November 10, 2020. Archived.fo URL: https://archive.fo/VszQg

  5. Science to Grow – FMC Corporation, 2019 Annual Report,” FMC Corporation. Archived November 10, 2020. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog.

  6. Policies & Statements,” FMC Corporation. Archived November 10, 2020. Archive.fo URL:  https://archive.fo/wD8eG

  7. FMC Corporation Announces New Sustainability Goals for 2025 and 2030,” PR Newswire, October 8, 2019. Archived November 10, 2020. Archive.fo URL: https://archive.fo/Rvmsy

  8. FMC Corporation Publishes 9th Annual Sustainability Report,” PR Newswire, June 2, 2020. Archived November 10, 2020. Archive.fo URL: https://archive.fo/ENpAp

  9. FMC Receives an A- from the CDP Climate Change Program as First Time Participant,” PR Newswire, February 9, 2017. Archived November 10, 2020. Archive.fo URL: https://archive.fo/eyC2l

  10. FMC Corp – Climate Change 2018 – CDP Disclosure,” FMC Corporation. Archived November 10, 2020. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog.

  11. Article: FMC interview – technology is the cornerstone of our growth plan,” IHS Markit, July 24, 2020. Archived August 10, 2020. Archive.fo URL: https://archive.fo/fJLQF

  12. FMC Corporation Announces New Arc™ Farm Intelligence Platform,” PR Newswire, May 21, 2020. Archived November 10, 2020. Archive.fo URL: https://archive.fo/XQhn9

  13. FMC Corporation Launches FMC Ventures to Advance Emerging AG Technology Innovation,” AiThority, June 26, 2020. Archived November 10, 2020. Archive.fo URL: https://archive.fo/EBoQA

  14. The EPA’s Elusive Climate Change Endangerment Report,” Union of Concerned Scientists, December 1, 2018. Archived November 10, 2020. Archive.fo URL: https://archive.fo/eFlmS

  15. A Climate of Corporate Control – How Corporations Have Influenced the US Dialogue on Climate Science and Policy,” Union of Concerned Scientists, May 2012. Archived November 10, 2020. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog.

  16. Crispin Dowler. “Revealed: The pesticide giants making billions on toxic and bee-harming chemicals,” Unearthed, February 2, 2020. Archived August 20, 2020. Archive.fo URLhttp://archive.fo/lPZS5

  17. FMC Chemical sprl (FMC),” LobbyFactsEU. Archived November 10, 2020. Archive.fo URL: https://archive.fo/ZqRBm

  18. Agencies Lobbied by FMC Corp, 2019,” OpenSecrets. Archived November 10, 2020. Archive.fo URL: https://archive.fo/m7lMX

  19. Members,” CropLife International. Archived November 9, 2020. Archive.fo URL: https://archive.fo/PSOBu

  20. Who We Are,” Crop Protection Association. Archived November 10, 2020. Archive.fo URL: https://archive.fo/oDGer

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