BASF has announced a consolidation of its global plant biotechnology R&D effort, with half the workforce to be cut and a number of locations to be downsized or closed. The move will allow the company to “concentrate on projects with the highest business and technical realization potential”.
The adjustment, following a regular portfolio review, will see the current 700 strong plant biotechnology R&D staff reduced by some 350 positions, with 140 of these in North America and 180 in Europe. At the same time, research and field sites at Research Triangle Park, North Carolina and Ames, Iowa in the US; Brazil; Berlin and Limburgerhof in Germany plus Ghent in Belgium will be kept but reduced in size. Field testing sites in Hawaii, India and Puerto Rico will be closed.
The streamlined plant biotech research portfolio will focus on projects with high potential in herbicide tolerance and fungal resistant soyabean, traits and the company’s work on raising polyunsaturated omega-3 fatty acid levels in canola/oilseed rape. Its collaboration with Monsanto over yield and stress in corn and soyabean is not affected. However, BASF will reduce its own discovery and early development projects in crop yield and stress, including corn and soyabean, and end work on rice yield and corn fungal resistance.
“We are confident that by refocusing our plant biotechnology portfolio, we will enable BASF to bring the most promising research projects to success,” comments Dr Harald Schwager, the BASF executive board member responsible for bioscience research. “We will discontinue projects with extremely high technical challenges, which would require significant time and financial investment.”