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Healthcare

BASF cuts half the jobs at its plant biotech unit

LEVERKUSEN, Germany, Feb 25 (Reuters) - BASF, the world’s largest chemicals group by sales, will cut half of the 700 jobs at its plant biotechnology business, slashing some early development projects in yield improvement and stress tolerance and all of its rice yield and corn fungal resistance projects.

BASF’s plant biotechnology unit is developing improved plant characteristics such as drought tolerability but relies on partners, the biggest being Monsanto, to bring finished seed products to market.

Alliances with such partners are not affected by the cutbacks, a spokeswoman said.

BASF, also the world’s third largest maker of farming pesticides, spends about 150 million euros ($165 million) per year on plant biotechnology research but has not disclosed sales or earnings figures for these activities.

A spokeswoman declined to comment on any cuts to annual budgets at the unit.

$1 = 0.9076 euros Reporting by Ludwig Burger; Editing by Maria Sheahan

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