Seed World

Passion for Produce

Sean Knapp, Syngenta’s head of Vegetable Seeds for North America, lives and breathes the world of produce — but don’t ask him to play favorites.

Seed World: What are you reading now, and why?

Sean Knapp: I’m actually attempting to get caught up on industry periodicals and news. The year-end period for us is often quite busy. With that, I’ve felt a bit out of touch with industry happenings …

SW: Why did you make vegetables your career?

SK: My career within Syngenta shifted to the vegetable genetics portion of our business in 2009, when I had the opportunity to manage two product lines across North and Central America. I’d had the opportunity to work with vegetable producers throughout my career across the eastern United States, but that product management opportunity allowed me to get a better understanding of the amazing world of produce and what it really takes to feed a growing population, globally. What I didn’t realize about the produce industry prior to 2009 is that the people who work in it are simply amazing. Their dedication and passion for what they do on a day-to-day basis may be unparalleled.

SW: Favorite vegetable to eat, and why?

SK: I’m not sure I can choose just one!

SW: What’s the biggest issue facing the vegetable seed industry, in your opinion?

SK: Supporting a stabilized model for producers, while attending to labor and water scarcity. I’m not sure everyone understands how delicate the model is for producers, and the balancing act they perform on a daily basis. As these resources become increasingly scarce, the risk that the producer accepts increases at a very rapid rate. I’m really proud that Syngenta continues to invest in The Good Growth Plan. Through activities focused on protecting our environment, improving working conditions and quality of life for producers and improving production efficiencies, we believe we can make a real difference. I would challenge each of our industry peers to adopt these sorts of initiatives, focusing more on the individual than the “bottom line.”

SW: What do you find most exciting?

SK: The pace of innovation toward developing higher performing products, from an agronomic perspective, and toward meeting consumer demands.