Farming News - BASF announces deep biotech cuts

BASF announces deep biotech cuts

29 Feb 2016
Frontdesk / Arable

Late last week agrochemical giant BASF announced plans to cut half of the 700 jobs at its plant biotechnology business.

Posting results on Friday, after the announcement about its biotechnology department on Thursday, the German chemical giant said the chemical industry and world economy had “lagged considerably behind the company’s expectations,” describing the situation as “volatile and challenging.”

Dr. Kurt Bock, chair of the company’s board of directors said, “Over the course of the year, global economic growth slowed significantly. In this economic environment, we have taken decisive measures: We have significantly reduced our inventories, strengthened our cost management and pruned our portfolio.”

BASF said the cuts to its plant science operations were made following a review of its biotechnology R&D operations. 140 jobs are set to be lost in North America and 180 in Europe. In Europe, research sites in Germany (Berlin and Limburgerhof) and Belgium (Ghent) will be kept, but reduced in size. The cuts are set to go ahead before the end of 2016.

Board member Dr. Harald Schwager commented, “We are confident that by refocusing our plant biotechnology portfolio, we will enable BASF to bring the most promising research projects to success. We will discontinue projects with extremely high technical challenges, which would require significant time and financial investment.”

Projects working on herbicide tolerance, omega-3 producing oilseed rape and fungal resistance in soybeans will be preserved. A project looking at yield and stress in maize and soybeans, being conducted in collaboration with Monsanto, will also be safeguarded. However, other “Discovery and early development” projects on yield and stress will be “streamlined” and work on improving rice yields and building fungal resistance in maize will be abandoned.

In January 2012, BASF announced it would be pulling its biotech business out of Europe, due to hostile views held by European governments and citizens. BASF had previously held one of only two patents on a genetically modified (GM) crop licensed for planting in the EU, its Amflora potato.