BASF PLANT SCIENCE, the newly founded biotechnology research arm of the giant German chemical corporation BASF, will establish a major research center at Research Triangle Park, N.C. This facility also will serve as the BASF Plant Science North American headquarters.

BASF Plant Science will build a staff of 150 research scientists and technicians at the North Carolina facility.

"Mankind's understanding of plant genetics has come a long way, but there is still so much more to learn and so many ways to apply that knowledge," says Juergen Schweden, who will lead BASF Plant Science in North America. "BASF has played a leading role in agriculture and nutrition throughout the 20th century and biotechnology will enable us to continue that tradition into the 21st."

BASF Plant Science was formed recently as a joint venture between BASF and the Swedish seed company Swalof Weibull. Besides their new facility in Research Triangle Park, BASF Plant Science includes six other research subsidiaries in Germany, Sweden and Canada.

"The new research center will extend the rapidly growing BASF system of globally integrated scientific research and product development to include the design of agronomic plants to enhance their qualities, quantities and production efficiency," says Friedrich Vogel, head of the BASF Crop Protection Division, under which BASF Plant Science will operate.

BASF Plant Science will develop such useful traits in crops as cold and drought tolerance, which expands the climatic range for cultivation, as well as higher protein, oil and carbohydrate levels, which improve the value of crops. BASF Plant science research scientists are already working to improve the vitamin and healthy fatty acid profiles in plants.

Research Triangle Park has been the North American headquarters of the BASF Corporation's Agricultural Products Group since 1986. This business group tests and markets a wide range of BASF crop protection solutions, recording more than $600 million in sales in 1998. With proximity to major universities, Research Triangle Park provides an ideal environment for research and development.

BASF is among the top 10 producers of chemicals and related products in the United States, Canada and Mexico, with sales of $7.2 billion in 1998. BASF in North America has its regional headquarters in Mount Olive, N.J., and is a member of the BASF Group (Ludwigshafen, Germany).

BASF in North America employs more than 15,000 people and has an Internet site at http://www.basf.com.