DuPont Pioneer

Pioneer Hi-Bred International, Inc. was established in the USA in 1926 and later renamed Pioneer. After its acquisition by E.I. du Pont de Nemours and Company (commonly referred to as DuPont) in 1999, it became known as DuPont Pioneer. The company supplies a diverse range of field crop seeds alongside crop protection products.*

* In December 2015, E.I. du Pont de Nemours and Company and The Dow Chemical Company announced their intention to merge.

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Global Index

Field Crops

Summary of results:

DuPont Pioneer leads the Global Index of Field Crop Seed Companies, thanks to relatively high scores in Genetic Resources & Intellectual Property and Research & Development. The company also performs well in Governance & Strategy, disclosing formal commitments related to access to seeds that are integrated into its overall strategy. The company scores consistently well in the categories Commitment, Performance and Transparency, and demonstrates innovation in its breeding programs. While strong programs are in place across all measurement areas, the company has opportunities to improve in Marketing & Sales and Capacity Building.

Operations in Scope
  • Countries in Scope
  • Company Presence
  • Production Locations
  • Breeding Station/R&D
Index Field Crops in Portfolio
Sales Breeding Focus
Beans, dry
Pearl millet
Rice, paddy
Leading Practices

    One of DuPont Pioneer’s Global Food Security Goals is to improve agricultural development worldwide. The company states that it focuses on ‘enabling farmers to be more productive, not only through the provision of improved seeds but also by developing stronger food value chains in collaboration with partners in support of rural agricultural communities worldwide’. Moreover, the company is committed to increasing the productivity and incomes of smallholder farmers in an environmentally sustainable way, with the goal of improving the livelihoods of 3 million farmers and their rural communities by 2020.

    DuPont Pioneer has an extensive distribution network which covers the majority of Index countries, marketing its products both directly and through dealers to reach remote areas. The company indicates that over half of the Index crops in its portfolio are available in almost every Index country.

    The company partners with local universities and many of the CGIAR centers (CIMMYT, IRRI, ICRISAT, CIAT) in its research efforts. It reports more than 500 R&D collaborations, which include material transfer agreements, intellectual property considerations and royalty stipulations.

    The company provides transgenic DNA constructs, currently for testing purposes only, to the African Biofortified Sorghum (ABS) project, which aims to combat human micronutrient deficiencies by developing nutrition-enhanced sorghum. In addition, the company has donated its intellectual property to the Improved Maize for African Soils (IMAS) partnership, the resulting inbreds and hybrids of which will be made available royalty-free to national programs and smallholder farmers.

    DuPont Pioneer strongly supports the breeders’ exemption in plant variety protection (PVP) laws and has worked to stop treaties or laws from limiting the exemption. The company does not support a breeders’ exemption in patent law. However, it states that it supports the entire system of relevant international treaties, naming the four separate treaties wherein inventors, breeders, farmers and societal rights are balanced and protected.

    The company has a Biodiversity Principles position statement. This includes a commitment to conserve and protect natural resource biodiversity; consider the concerns of local communities in the selection, design, production and introduction of products; and publicly advocate these positions.

Areas for Improvement

    As a subsidiary of a large agrochemical company, DuPont Pioneer could strengthen its efforts to ensure that smallholder farmers in Index countries have access to the necessary agricultural inputs other than seeds. It could consider activities to facilitate capacity building around the appropriate and sustainable use of these inputs.

    DuPont Pioneer discloses some aspects of its position on the protection of its intellectual property (IP), namely the use of biotechnology to protect the value of its traits and IP without interfering with the practice of farm-saved seeds. The company is encouraged to disclose a more comprehensive formal position on the patenting of native traits and the licensing of patented traits.

Notable Findings

    DuPont Pioneer participates in a number of global policy debates and other collaborative initiatives. Since 2010, it has convened a multi-stakeholder Advisory Committee on Agricultural Innovation and Productivity, which has been tasked with exploring the global issues affecting food and nutrition security. It has contributed to the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition, a collaboration with USAID that aims to reduce global hunger by enabling smallholder farmers’ access to agricultural innovations. In addition, it has sponsored the Global Food Security Index, a worldwide perspective on food insecurity compiled by the Economist Intelligence Unit.

    The company accommodates the differing capacity levels of smallholder farmers by offering different grades of seeds and selling seed in appropriately sized packages.

    The company is involved in the R&D of specific traits tailored to the needs of smallholder farmers, including resistance and tolerance to biotic and abiotic stresses, higher nutritional values and increased yields. It also reports activities to develop salt water-tolerant hybrid rice, a nutritious and easily digestible sorghum variety, and improved maize varieties that are better at capturing fertilizer, thereby increasing yield. The company also refers to culinary preferences.

    The company’s research and production activities are certified to ISO standards, with documented seed purity, germination and quality. Seed quality is monitored throughout the distribution network. Seed packages are designed to protect seeds during transport and storage, agreements with distributors prohibit sales of seeds beyond their shelf life and a variety of measures are reportedly in place to prevent the sale of counterfeit seeds.

    DuPont Pioneer is the only Global Index company that recognizes the importance of the informal seed system.