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BASF Moves GM Plant Research From Europe To US 288

Posted by Soulskill
from the just-trying-to-blend-in dept.
ananyo writes "The German chemical giant BASF is moving its transgenic plant operations from Europe to the U.S., it says, because of widespread opposition to the technology. The company on 16 January announced that it would move its plant science headquarters from Limburgerhof, Germany to Raleigh, North Carolina and no longer develop plants solely for cultivation in Europe. The division employs 157 people in Limburgerhof, plus another 63 at facilities elsewhere in Europe. BASF said it would relocate 123 of those jobs to the North Carolina facility. In statement, Stefan Marcinowski, a member of BASF's Board of Executive Directors, cited 'a lack of acceptance for this technology in many parts of Europe – from the majority of consumers, farmers and politicians.' The company instead plans to focus on plant biotechnology markets in the Americas and Asia."
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BASF Moves GM Plant Research From Europe To US

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  • by unity100 (970058) on Monday January 16, 2012 @05:44PM (#38718260) Homepage Journal
    And freak food that is genetically modified in an unbridled fashion ! what more can one ask .........
    • by ExecutorElassus (1202245) on Monday January 16, 2012 @05:47PM (#38718292)
      dude, if you aren't eating organic, you're already eating GMO. At least in the US.
      • dude, if you aren't eating organic, you're already eating GMO.

        By GMO, you sure mean Gabbro, Mica, and Olivine - nothing organic in those. ;-)

    • by MightyYar (622222)

      And freak food that is genetically modified in an unbridled fashion ! what more can one ask .........

      With an attitude like that, you sound like the stem-cell opponents. Seems like an even trade - let the Europeans have the stem cell research and the Americans can have the crop research.

    • by mrmeval (662166)

      All I want is the stuff to be marked as genalt food so I can make an informed choice about buying it or not. It will also allow the vendor of such food to face the publics wrath should something bad happen.

      I'd also want genalt foodstuffs to require an environmental impact statement before they could be released in the wild and for impacts outside of the growing area to be considered damage against anothers property and treated like any other property damage.

  • by RapidEye (322253) on Monday January 16, 2012 @05:48PM (#38718304) Homepage

    The BASF facility in RTP has never been terribly large and/or important when compared to their neighbors.
    These jobs will be a nice addition to the area and help elevate Biotech even further.
    Thanks Limburgerhof!!!

    • by andydread (758754)
      Biotech is good. Trusting corporations like Monsanto not to sweep issues under the rug [google.com] that they have found when it comes to food and biotech not so good.
    • by bfandreas (603438)
      The BASF facilities at Limburgerhof are quite nice, actually. Lots of wild rabbit hopping around unused lots, a pond in front of the main building and quite new buildings whereas the offices at the main facilities(30k employees in one spot, they even have their own bus service on the main campus, can you imagine that?) seem to be 50-100 years old.
      I wonder who calls dibs on Limburgerhof. BASF even had an annual farmer's market at Limburgerhof. Pity, I'll miss them.
      If you think any of the 200 employees who
  • by geoffrobinson (109879) on Monday January 16, 2012 @05:55PM (#38718412) Homepage

    You have to admit, you weren't expecting to read that headline.

    • Europeans aren't anti-science, they're against GM modified crops because they fear it's not safe. They don't want to be experimented on. I don't see GM modified crops as a problem, if they are tested for safety properly. But I would rather err on the safe side.
      • by Sique (173459) on Monday January 16, 2012 @06:13PM (#38718642) Homepage

        And they are against GM food, because it's patent creep - doodle around in a little corner of the genome and patent the whole plant afterwards, thus gaining power over all people doing business with similar plants and destroying traditonal seed circulation.

        • One problem with that notion. Europeans oppose publicly funded research that would not have that problem too. Ever heard of the potatoes [slashdot.org] at the University of Ghent, the government funded grape rootstocks [redgreenandblue.org] in France, or the government funded wheat & potatoes [gmo-safety.eu] and apples [gmo-safety.eu] in Germany? Destroyed. Meanwhile, I've never heard of them having any problem with patented non-GE plants. Maybe the patents factor into it, but you really can't take the patent or corporate angle here. The main issue is the science.

        • Sorry that's bullshit. The patent you get is on the improvement to the plant, not the plant itself.

        • by DigitalSorceress (156609) on Monday January 16, 2012 @07:07PM (#38719236)

          It's funny - the IP/Patent Creep angle is actually the most compelling and possibly only legitimate argument against GM food. If this is the real reason behind the protesting, then it's doing the right thing (fighting GM food) for the right reason (Patent Creep / IP / Corporate greed controlling food)

          However, I bet there really are a lot of "frankenfood" protestors there too.. folks who are doing the right thing (fighting GM food) for the wrong reason. I worry about that crowd because it's like handing the corporate apologists a giant strawman.

      • by rahvin112 (446269) on Monday January 16, 2012 @06:17PM (#38718710)

        And that fear is an irrational fear of the science behind it. Many of the crops have been in use for several decades and proven not only safe but in the case of corn, highly effective at reducing pesticide use yet they are still banned in Europe. Not because there is any evidence showing that they are bad, but because the public at large fears them. In fact there has been lots of studies showing a complete lack of harm and not a single study showing harm yet they are still banned.

        They were erring on the safe side in the first 5 years this stuff was used, 20 years down the road they aren't on the safe side anymore, they are on irrational side. And yes it is most certainly anti-science (anti crop science), it's just a different variety than the kind in the US.

        • by silanea (1241518) on Monday January 16, 2012 @06:36PM (#38718948)
          Is it so irrational? Look at Japan. People there believed in progress, in technology, with an almost religious fervour. Until a disaster laid bare not flaws in the science, mind you, but flaws in the humans profiting off it. The same goes for our European anti-GM sentiments: Do you in all seriousness trust the likes of Monsanto or BASF not to put cash over lives? No matter how sound the science behind GM is, there already are enough reasons to be very mindful of what food I buy. And all of them are down to some greedy fucks trying to skim off just a little bit more. I do not need another layer of adverse interests thrown into the mix.
          • by Solandri (704621)

            Look at Japan. People there believed in progress, in technology, with an almost religious fervour. Until a disaster laid bare not flaws in the science, mind you, but flaws in the humans profiting off it.

            I'm not sure anymore how much of that is real, and how much is stereotype due to the tech gadgets and anime which come out of Japan. During the nuclear crisis, watching NHK coverage was a treat. I had expected the Japanese to be well ahead of the U.S. in fancy computer graphics in their news broadcasts. In

        • Screw that.
          The reason people don't want GMO'S is because they are pushed by Monsanto, a company that wouldn't be scared to eat babies and sell grand-parents for profit.
          Microsoft is all rainbows and unicorns in comparison to them, and a lot of people on /. don't like them.

        • by Hentes (2461350) on Monday January 16, 2012 @09:19PM (#38720264)

          Safety of consumption is just one of the safety concerns. A much bigger problem is crosspollination, and escaping to the wild, messing up the ecosystem. By these standards even safely consumable GMO plants aren't safe.

      • by nisse-j (1044566)
        "if they are tested for safety properly" Right. With emphasis on "properly". Any GMO research done by the industry itself can obviously not be trusted, unless you are extremely naive and gullible. Let's see what independent researchers say about it: http://articles.latimes.com/2011/feb/13/opinion/la-oe-guriansherman-seeds-20110213 [latimes.com] Oh, wait. I find it pathetic that this "Anti-Science" garbage is thrown around any time someone is skeptic of something presented under the guise of "science". Perhaps that's
        • There's lots of independent testing [biofortified.org] confirming the safety of genetic engineering. Anyone who says otherwise either doesn't know much about the area, or is lying. Considering that Gurian-Sherman works for the Union of Concerned Scientists as an 'expert' in this field and wrote the report Failure to Yield [ucsusa.org], which claimed that GE crops yielded less than non-GE crops, while conveniently ignoring the fact that 1) those GE crops were not designed to be intrinsically higher yielding but to have other benefits, 2)

          • by williamhb (758070)

            There's lots of independent testing [biofortified.org] confirming the safety of genetic engineering. Anyone who says otherwise either doesn't know much about the area, or is lying.

            The problem is that issues we don't know to test for (either because they are as yet undiscovered or there was no reason to believe they would happen) can have serious consequences. "Confirming the safety" is rightly treated as suspect by the public as it generally means merely "We found no known reason to believe it is unsafe". The BSE crisis in the UK is the classic example -- the change to British law that allowed the temperature rendered feed was sterilised at to be lowered was deemed to be safe by th

      • Just as those who doubt humans are causing global warming, because its a conspiracy of socialist to screw them over somehow*.
        Just as those who doubt evolution, because its just a theory and not a fact like gravity.

        * ( never really understood that one, so its tought to parody).

      • by eulernet (1132389)

        But I would rather err on the safe side.

        Totally agree !
        I'm european, and I suffer from an incurable illness: celiac disease http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coeliac_disease [wikipedia.org]
        I'm not a vegetarian, and I don't eat organic food.

        When I eat gluten, and most particularly wheat, I become very tired, I get a giant dermatosis and my articulations hurt in less than one hour.
        In fact, my intestinal villi are destroyed when exposed to gliadin, and this leads to cancer after several years.

        It took me more than 10 years to discover why I was constantly ill, since my d

        • Milk's issue for Celiac disease sufferers is generally due to the lack of cilia. If you're gluten-free long enough to regenerate them, you should be fine with milk again. It's not because there's little gluten proteins in your GM milk. And in what world is genetically modified corn harmful to people with Celiac disease?

          Maybe you don't have supermarkets in Europe, but there are tons of them here in the US. They always have a gluten-free section in the natural foods area, and many of our other products have d

        • by PCM2 (4486)

          Wheat has been "improved" by selection, so GM food is probably even more dangerous.

          That's not a particularly scientific or even rational-sounding argument, I'm sorry to say. If you have an autoimmune disease that's triggered by wheat, then GM wheat is wheat and you shouldn't eat it. The GM part is not your issue.

    • People are quite rightly concerned because if there is something wrong with GM food and it gets into nature it's not going to disappear easily. if it can be proven to be safe no one has a problem with it.
      • You can't prove that something is safe. So you are setting up an impossible to satisfy barrier.

        If this sort of logic were applied at the time of the discovery of fire we would still be living in dark unheated caves and eating our food raw.

    • Re: (Score:2, Offtopic)

      In regards to your signature:
      There are somewhere between 12 and 27 million slaves right now.
      China, an ostensibly Communist country, has over a billion inhabitants.

      The Nazis and American independence, those are valid points... except for the increasingly fascist rules the US keeps passing and forcing on other countries at the behest of corporations.

  • by Greger47 (516305) on Monday January 16, 2012 @06:01PM (#38718484)

    Wow!

    BASF still exists? To me BASF is this [youtube.com], and I haven't heard them since. :)

    /greger

    • by teg (97890) on Monday January 16, 2012 @06:15PM (#38718682) Homepage

      Wow!

      BASF still exists? To me BASF is this [youtube.com], and I haven't heard them since. :)

      BASF [wikipedia.org] is the largest chemical company in the world - more than twice the size of DuPont. 2010 revenues were almost 64 billion €.

      • Don't forget Dow Chemical at #2, nearly twice as large as DuPont in terms of revenue.

        Wow!

        BASF still exists? To me BASF is this [youtube.com], and I haven't heard them since. :)

        BASF [wikipedia.org] is the largest chemical company in the world - more than twice the size of DuPont. 2010 revenues were almost 64 billion €.

    • by pesho (843750) on Monday January 16, 2012 @06:22PM (#38718788)
      Wow! These were the times, when we cared about chrome dioxide tapes. Then the CDs came bout and everything went downhill. Seriously, this is one of the largest chemical companies in the world. you don't here about them, because they no longer market to consumers, at least in the US. But if you need 100 metric tons of a pigment, or a polymer, or any other chemical they are the guys to go to.
  • by no-body (127863)

    If GMO food labeling would be happening in the US, some priorities on affected companies would change there as well.

    • Re:So (Score:5, Informative)

      by Beardo the Bearded (321478) on Monday January 16, 2012 @06:11PM (#38718624)

      If the UPC starts with 9, it's organic.

      If it starts with 8, it's GM.

      If there's another number, it's conventionally farmed.

      For once, lazy programming helps slashdotters.

      • Re:So (Score:5, Interesting)

        by pesho (843750) on Monday January 16, 2012 @06:36PM (#38718954)
        The GM labeling is a little fuzzy according to this site http://www.innvista.com/health/foods/organics/labeling.htm [innvista.com]:

        In 1992, the FDA declared that biotech foods were the same as conventional foods – because the biotech companies said so. The number 8 was then instituted since the produce industry thought consumers would prefer genetically modified food moreso than conventionally grown food. It did not take long for them to find out differently. Although the number 8 designation can still be found, it is rare. The biotech industry is also fighting any sort of labeling for their inventions – now that they know consumers really do not want them. As it stands now, Hawaiian papaya is about the only food you will find that has the number 8 in front of it.

      • by PCM2 (4486)

        If the UPC starts with 9, it's organic.

        I believe you're talking about the codes on the little stickers that come on your produce in U.S. supermarkets, not the UPC code. The UPC code is the barcode that comes on boxes and cans, and its first digits describe the food's country of origin.

  • by ozduo (2043408) on Monday January 16, 2012 @06:08PM (#38718582)
    This is nothing new, for years business has been shifting manufacturing to impoverished countries to take advantage of cheap labour. They are just thinking ahead!
  • They made really great cassette tapes!
  • They're Right-to-Work (without benefits) states and they've been enticing European companies for a while now. Why pay a union guy $20/hr with benefits when you can pay a Southerner $10/hr who will also vote to make sure you keep his pay and benefits low?

    • These are not $20/hr union jobs. These are high paid science and technology jobs.

      I assume they are going into Raleigh because it is part of the Research Triangle.

  • by Kagato (116051) on Monday January 16, 2012 @06:22PM (#38718772)

    In Europe the market gets to decide if they want GMO food. That happens because they have labeling and menu laws that require the disclosure. It's capitalism at work. BASF is free to grow all the GMO it wants. But they have to sell GMO to the consumers. Here in the US you can pretty much put what you want into foods without nearly as much disclosure.

    • by sp3d2orbit (81173)

      In Europe the government does the deciding, not the market. It is the exact opposite of a free market because government regulators are attempting to protect the heavily subsidized European farmers from competing with imported GMOs. The WTO ruled against Europe in 2006 for these policies. The European Court of Justice reaffirmed that ruling in September of 2011.

      To this day most GMO food imports are banned in Europe.

  • by flibbidyfloo (451053) on Monday January 16, 2012 @06:24PM (#38718804)

    I keep waiting for all this "frankenfood" the Luddites promise I'll see, but all we get are more resiliant, disease and pest resistant crops that have the potential to feed the starving, etc etc.

    Where are my grapples (grapes the size of apples)? Where is my chocolate flavored bananas that grow in a temperate environment? Where is the wheat I can bake into a pizza crust that has all my RDA vitamins along with a weight-loss ingreiant?

    And god dangit, where are my real booberries?

  • Wow, 123 Jobs!!! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by mbrod (19122) on Monday January 16, 2012 @06:26PM (#38718832) Homepage Journal
    30 years of Conservative ideology has finally paid off.
    • Yea, right, like anyone in America has a strong enough command of Biology anymore to actually work there.

  • Just about any business that wants to relocate the US is welcome. And really, we're well suited to this one. GMO doesn't scare us and whatever some people think it's the future.

    So I'm very happy the US is increasing market share in an industry with huge growth potential and effectively infinite life span because this is a business that will never go away.

  • by rbrander (73222) on Monday January 16, 2012 @07:07PM (#38719238) Homepage

    We have to stop this shopping around for the country with the loosest morals!

    It starts here, but before you know it, they'll be migrating good jobs to countries with appalling labour and environmental practices because those low morals make manufacturing cheaper! Up to 40,000 factories in the US could be lost this way!

    Oh, wait, my briefing paper says "1982" not "2012". Damn. What? It already happened?

    Never mind...

  • The Food Supply (Score:5, Insightful)

    by hackus (159037) on Monday January 16, 2012 @08:03PM (#38719692) Homepage

    GMO is not about making plants that produce more, or are resistant to cold or heat or drought.

    It is the control of the food supply, that is what it is about.

    Ask any Biologist, and they will tell you, genetically creating strains of identical plant lines to maximize a trait is a truly dangerous thing to do. Whenever you take and engineer biological entities such as plants, that are gentically identical and create entire artificial eco systems that have low diversity, or in the case of GMO, _NO_ diversity, all sorts of catastrophic destruction can happen to the population.

    Whether it be a GERM, a BUG or BAD WEATHER, having a food supply that is genetically diverse and NOT engineered is the safest and will produce the most food, consistently over a wide variety of environmental conditions.

    GMO has got to be the worst possible idea of all time. It won't produce food for anyone except the rich, and it will not produce food that has the ecological diversity requirements to provide a safe consistent yield.

    It isn't by accident you know, they will not put GMO labels on food. They know it is not safe, and they do not want you to know about it.

    GMO also is causing massive extinction rates in our grain crops from gene contamination. If this isn't stopped, there won't be any grain species left that are safe to eat.

    -Hack

    • Re:The Food Supply (Score:5, Informative)

      by ChromeAeonium (1026952) on Monday January 16, 2012 @10:14PM (#38720662)

      GMO is not about making plants that produce more, or are resistant to cold or heat or drought.

      Presently they are about resistance to insects, better weed management practices, and virus resistance, and they work.

      It is the control of the food supply, that is what it is about.

      You have no idea what genetic engineering is, do you? It is a technique. It doesn't want to do anything. Sure, you could say that a company wants to get larger market share, but that would be like saying that cooking is all about control because McDonald's does it.

      Ask any Biologist, and they will tell you, genetically creating strains of identical plant lines to maximize a trait is a truly dangerous thing to do.

      Funny, because that's exactly what many biologists working in plant science are trying to do with particular traits. That's what we've been doing for years with conventional breeding, or did you think all those plump grains and fat fruits were natural? This is not intrinsically different than altering traits via GE. And as a matter of fact, I have asked biologists about this very subject. University professors in genetics, biochemistry, plant biology, and agriculture. Guess how many of them opposed genetic engineering? None.

      Whenever you take and engineer biological entities such as plants, that are gentically identical and create entire artificial eco systems that have low diversity, or in the case of GMO, _NO_ diversity, all sorts of catastrophic destruction can happen to the population.

      That doesn't even make sense. Yes, lack of biodiversity is bad. Genetic engineering however is a way of improving a plant, not a system of agriculture. What you are saying is like saying that modifying cars with spinning rims means that there will only be one car on the market. Furthermore, even with GE crops, they breed the trait into numerous different lines of the crop.

      Whether it be a GERM, a BUG or BAD WEATHER, having a food supply that is genetically diverse and NOT engineered is the safest and will produce the most food, consistently over a wide variety of environmental conditions.

      Biodiversity is what you grow. genetic engineering is a way to improve it. That's a false dichotomy that makes absolutely no sense and could just as easily be applied to conventional breeding.

      GMO has got to be the worst possible idea of all time.

      Tell that to the papaya farmers in Hawaii who would no longer be papaya farmers without the GE Rainbow papaya. Tell that to the farmers in India who stole Bt cotton seeds from test fields. Tell that to the farmers all across America, Canada, Brazil, and Argentina who willingly choose to buy GE seed every year.

      It isn't by accident you know, they will not put GMO labels on food. They know it is not safe, and they do not want you to know about it.

      They?

      GMO also is causing massive extinction rates in our grain crops from gene contamination. If this isn't stopped, there won't be any grain species left that are safe to eat.

      Really? Care to explain in detail how a single new transgene could possibly do that? Because it sounds like you just made that up.

      It sounds like you know nothing about biology or agriculture, but you've got conspiracies down.

  • by cbope (130292) on Tuesday January 17, 2012 @04:41AM (#38722344)

    Good riddance, glad to see this moving out of the EU. For you guys on the other side of the Atlantic... hope you realize what is coming. We don't accept it here in Europe and you shouldn't either.

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