BASF SE is moving the plant-science unit that genetically modifies crops to the U.S. from Germany after European consumers resisted the technology.
The division’s headquarters in Limburgerhof will move to Raleigh, N.C., and development and commercialization of all products targeted solely at cultivation in the European market will be halted, BASF said today in a statement.
The move will result in the loss of 140 European jobs, the Ludwigshafen, Germany-based company said.
“There is still a lack of acceptance for this technology in many parts of Europe from the majority of consumers, farmers and politicians,” Stefan Marcinowski, the BASF board member responsible for plant biotechnology, said in the statement. “It does not make business sense to continue investing in products exclusively for cultivation in this market.”
The flight of research means Germany may lose out on the $12 billion market for genetically modified plants, which is set to grow 5% annually over the next 5 years, according to advisory firm Phillips McDougall. BASF founded the agricultural center in Limburgerhof in 1914 and has 11,000 square meters of greenhouses and about 40 hectares of fields.
Limburgerhof will retain its crop-protection activities, and the company will close sites in Gatersleben, Germany, and Svalov, Sweden, it said. Research activities for plant science will continue in Ghent, Belgium, and in Berlin, BASF said.
The plant-science unit will concentrate on the Americas and Asia, BASF said. Genetically modified potato products will no longer be developed specifically for Europe, though the unit will continue seeking regulatory approval to “maintain all options,” the company said.
BASF won U.S. approval last year for cultivating a drought-tolerant corn developed in collaboration with Monsanto Co.