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January 24, 2008

BASF and NIBS enter cooperation/ license agreement

Gerald Ondrey

BASF Plant Science (Limburgerhof, Germany; and the National Institute of Biological Sciences (NIBS; Beijing, China; today announced a cooperation and licensing agreement in biotechnology. It is the first cooperation to be made by BASF Plant Science in the People’s Republic of China and focuses on increasing yield in staple crops such as corn, soybeans and rice.

“Asia is emerging as a key player in plant biotechnology both in research and cultivation and we are striving to intensify partnerships in this dynamic region. Europe, on the contrary, is losing its competitiveness due to slow and contradictory political decisions,” said Dr. Hans Kast, president and CEO of BASF Plant Science. Last October, BASF Plant Science announced another cooperation agreement with the South Korean Crop Functional Genomics Center.

“NIBS was established in 2003 to advance the frontier of basic research in life sciences in China,” explained Professor Deng Xing Wang, plant biologist and one of two co-directors at NIBS. “We are very proud that our efforts in this area have lead to groundbreaking results in a little more than four years.”

NIBS has identified a family of genes that have shown to increase crop yield. Under the agreement, the institute will further analyze the detailed functions of the identified genes before they enter BASF Plant Science’s strong yield R&D pipeline.

“Discoveries in yield increase like those made by NIBS will help meet booming worldwide demand for food and feed,” Kast and Deng agreed. Increasing yield in staple crops is a key target of modern agricultural research. In countries such as China, rising standards of living have caused meat consumption to increase by 300% in the past 20 years and the demand for animal feed has risen accordingly. At the same time, factors such as urbanization are reducing the amount of arable land in Asia.

Under the agreement, BASF Plant Science obtains exclusive rights to develop and commercialize transgenic crops with the discovered genes outside China. NIBS retains the right to market crops in China.

Financial details of the agreement have not been disclosed.

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