Europe is losing ground as a place to develop plant biotechnology

Europe is losing ground as a place to develop plant biotechnology

German chemical giant BASF is concentrating plant biotechnology activities to North and South America under adjustment of the portfolio and site footprint. The headquarter for these activities will be moved from German to Raleigh, North Carolina (USA) and also major development activities will be concentrated there. The reasons are promising markets and the lack of interest (from farmers, consumers and politicians) in many parts of Europe

Research Triangle Park near Raleigh, North Carolina will become the new BASF headquarters for plant biotechnology. This means that the current headquarter is losing jobs, they will be reduced from actually 157 to 11. Additionally BASF is closing down the sites of Gatersleben (D) including 57 jobs and Salvalöv (S) with six jobs being lost. 123 jobs from Limburgerhof and Gatersleben will be transferred to Raleigh and this means that 78 positions will become obsolete over the next two years at those two European sites. BASF will try to accommodate a total of 140 obsolete European jobs within the BASF organisation.

On the other hand the company’s research facilities at metanomics in Berlin (D) and CropDesign in Ghent (B) will be strengthened, because these are world-class research institutes and universities and they will be combined with the ones in North America to further form an attractive gene discovery platform and to reinforce BASF’s position as the Trait Technology partner. However the division BASF Plant Science (actually employing 840 persons) will halt the development and commercialisation of all products that are targeted solely for cultivation in the European markets including genetically modified starch potatoes and a wheat variety resistant to fungal disease but it will continue the regulatory processes for the products already initiated.

The cooperation with a strong focus on crops developed for higher yields and improved resistance to stress conditions such as draught will continue as well as the relevant collaboration with Monsanto for corn, soy, cotton, canola and wheat.

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