DuPont reinvests to focus on biotechnology and genetics

By Lorraine Heller

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Dupont

US agricultural giant DuPont today announced it is to begin
executing its $100m reinvestment plan, a move designed to increase
the firm's innovation and meet growing demand for grain.

The plan includes the addition of more than 400 positions, mainly in research and development in DuPont's subsidiary Pioneer Hi-Bred International. The reinvestment, designed to boost the company's plant genetics and biotechnology platforms, comes after an aggressive reorganization strategy in its nutrition and crop protection businesses. Announced in December 2006, this involved closing or streamlining 10 plants and slashing 1,500 jobs globally. DuPont's latest announcement comes in the midst of a tough period for its Agriculture & Nutrition division. Last month, the firm revealed that despite an overall 8 percent increase in fourth quarter net sales, its Agriculture & Nutrition segment continued on a downward turn, making a loss of $350m in the three months ended December 31 2006. This compares to a loss of $272m in the year ago period. The company said its new investment is the largest year-to-year increase in research in the 81-year history of the Pioneer business, a unit of the DuPont Agriculture & Nutrition platform. The platform aims to increase support for seed and biotechnology research as well as drive a strong DuPont Crop Protection new product pipeline and Solae healthy food ingredients, said the firm. According to DuPont, its Pioneer business will be expanding R&D efforts at 67 of its 92 research centers worldwide. New positions will be filled by redeploying current employees from other DuPont businesses and outside hiring. "DuPont continues to accelerate its pace of development of new and improved products, traits and enabling technologies. We have the richest pipeline in our history. This investment will help us to increase our innovation even further,"​ said William Niebur, vice president of DuPont Crop Genetics R&D. In preparation for what DuPont calls an "unprecedented launch of new products and Technologies"​, the firm also said it is adding positions to deliver more agronomic and sales support to customers and take advantage of new product lineups. The firm told FoodNavigator-USA.com that its investment will allow it to increase yields, trait development and speed to market of its products. The increased investment in research is also expected to allow the firm to improve its genetics through enhanced molecular breeding techniques. For 2007, the Pioneer business has introduced 86 new corn hybrids in North America, of which 17 are from new genetic families and 16 are triple stacks. Pioneer has also launched 20 new soybean varieties for 2007 planting in North America.

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