Bayer opens European wheat breeding center
click image to zoomThe “European Wheat Breeding Center” of Bayer CropScience is located on the biotechnology campus Gatersleben (City Zealand/ Saxony-Anhalt) and has begun operations. Wheat is the most widely grown crop and one of the world's most important staple foods. In order to develop new, high-quality wheat varieties against the backdrop of a growing world population, Bayer CropScience has opened a new European Wheat Breeding Center in Gatersleben, in the Saxony-Anhalt region of Germany. Work has begun in greenhouses and laboratories on an approximately 1,400 m2 facility at the Biotechpark Gatersleben Infrastruktur GmbH site. As well as developing wheat varieties with higher yields and enhanced properties for the central European market, the 40 employees in Gatersleben will also coordinate all of Bayer's wheat-breeding activities in Europe. Bayer invests some EUR 720 million worldwide in the research and development of crop protection agents and seeds every year. It is planned to increase this budget to approximately EUR 850 million by 2015.
"The inauguration of the European Wheat Breeding Center is another important milestone for our activities in the area of seeds and traits," said Professor Dr. Wolfgang Plischke, member of the Bayer AG Board of Management responsible for Innovation, Technology and Sustainability, at the opening ceremony. "It is an enormous challenge for scientists all over the world to safeguard and improve the global food supply. As a scientific company, we at Bayer want to make our contribution towards achieving this goal, in line with our mission 'Science For A Better Life'," said Plischke in his opening address. As the amount of land available for agricultural use cannot be enlarged, it will be essential in the future to use all available methods to achieve substantially larger harvests. Molecular breeding could be particularly helpful to deliver new solutions, added Plischke.
click image to zoomProf. Dr. Birgitta Wolff,minister of science and ecnonomics, Dr. Rüdiger Scheitza (Member of the Board of Management of Bayer CropScience AG) demonstrate the pollination of wheat together with lab assistant Sylvia Müller and Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Plischke (Member of the Bayer AG Board of Management) as well as Dr. Elmar Weissmann (Head of the Wheat Breeding Center) (from left). As Saxony-Anhalt's Minister for Science and Economy Professor Birgitta Wolff explained, "The opening of the European Wheat Breeding Center in Gatersleben is a clear signal of Bayer AG's commitment to Saxony-Anhalt as a center for biotechnology, and is reinforced by Bayer's decision to coordinate its entire wheat-breeding activities from Gatersleben in the future. We have a classic win/win situation here: the Biotechpark Gatersleben offers the ideal infrastructure for Bayer, while the Leibniz Institute of Plant Genetics and Crop Research will benefit from the new Wheat Breeding Center with an intensive exchange of personnel."