DuPont-owned Pioneer Hi-Bred has opened two seed research centres in Europe in an attempt to deliver higher yielding corn and sunflower hybrids to farmers and “meet growing demand for food and fuel”.
DuPont has thrown more than $5 million (€3.42m) at two new centres – one in Hungary and one in Italy – and added 10 new research positions to the 25 existing researchers that will transfer to the sites.
Field and lab capacity was being added to the two facilities.
Iowa-based Pioneer is a leading supplier of European seed corn genetics and is rapidly increasing its sunflower business.
"DuPont is aggressively investing in research and development to increase farmer productivity and extend our leadership position in corn, sunflower and oilseed rape in Europe," said the vice president of DuPont Crop Genetics Research and Development, William S Niebur.
"The opening and expansion of these two new research centres continues our commitment to meet the challenges farmers face in Europe and around the world by providing genetic solutions farm-by-farm, field-by-field and hectare-by-hectare.”
The construction of the research centres is part of a DuPont/Pioneer strategy to enhance and speed delivery of products to market.
Pioneer increased its research spending by 10 per cent in 2008 and was expanding its research plots by 25 per cent, doubling its molecular breeding efforts, and adding 36 new employees along with lab and field equipment.
Inside the centres
Dupont’s southeastern Hungarian facility will expand its sunflower “breeding, testing and disease characterisation”.
Corn breeding will also be researched along with disease and agronomic trait characterisation.
The Italian centre in the Po valley in northern Italy will also research disease and trait recognition.
"Today's announcement builds upon the greater than 50-year commitment that we made to European farmers to increase agricultural productivity," Niebur said.
"Based upon our new technology advances, strong products, and business growth in the region, we have clearly made the right decision."
Pioneer Hi-Bred and DuPont have been developing a new high oleic soybean oil trait as part of the Bunge DuPont Biotech Alliance.
It contains 80 per cent oleic acid, which increases the stability of the oil when used in frying and food processing.
Like low linolenic soybean oil, high oleic soybean oil eliminates the need for hydrogenation, resulting in foods with negligible amounts of trans fats. It is on track for 2009 commercial introduction in the United States, pending regulatory approvals.