Bayer CropScience celebrated the expansion of its center for vegetable research and development in Leudal, the Netherlands. With an investment of EUR 12 million, the existing research building almost tripled in size to now match 6,400 square meters. It is equipped with state-of-the-art laboratories for seed technology, cell biology and molecular breeding research as well as high-throughput biotech services.
At the opening ceremony, Bayer CEO Marijn Dekkers highlighted the Group's commitment to horticulture and healthy food. "We aim to provide growers and consumers across the world with answers for resource-efficient production as well as with healthy and flavorful vegetables," said Dekkers. "Bayer vegetable seeds, sold worldwide under the Nunhems brand, are an important cornerstone in our strategy, and we are determined to remain at the forefront of innovation in this market," added Sandra E. Peterson, CEO of Bayer CropScience.
"Our work focuses on making the best possible use of nature’s genetic resources, and continues to enlarge the traditional plant breeder’s toolbox," explained Johan Peleman, Head of Research and Development Vegetable Seeds. "In our Integrated Breeding programs, skilled breeders work closely together with scientists to develop innovative characteristics into commercial varieties."
On the occasion of the opening Douwe Zijp, head of the Bayer CropScience vegetable seed business, and Aalt Dijkhuizen, Chairman of the Executive Board of Wageningen University and Research Center, announced a joint educational initiative for high schools across the Netherlands. In this project, Bayer CropScience and Wageningen supply tomato seeds and detailed instructions for a hands-on genetics experiment. By sowing the seeds and evaluating the characteristics of the young plants, students are made familiar with the basic principles of plant breeding. "The thriving vegetable industry needs the younger generation’s curiosity and imagination to sustain it. We hope that this school project will help to ignite a passion for plant breeding in the students," emphasizes Douwe Zijp.
Many successful products have emerged from the Bayer CropScience research and development programs already: Tomatoes that put an end to soggy sandwiches by holding on to their juice after cutting, melons that change their color when they have reached optimal flavor and ripeness, or mild-flavored onions with a longer shelf-life.
In addition to the facility in Leudal, Bayer CropScience has a second vegetable research center in Davis, California (USA). Both centers work in close alignment with 26 vegetable breeding stations spread across the world, and two additional high-throughput service centers in the US (Brooks, Oregon) and India (Bangalore).