AVEBE and BASF Plant Science start R&D cooperation on genetically optimised amylopectin starch potatoes

Thursday, 13 January, 2011

The potato starch manufacturer AVEBE and the plant biotechnology company BASF Plant Science have announced a research and development alliance in plant biotechnology. The companies are combining their competencies in biotechnology discovery and genetically modified potato breeding with the aim of bringing farmers modern and fungal-resistant starch potato varieties.

They will start developing a late blight-resistant amylopectin starch potato. Late blight is a serious problem in potato farming in Europe. The companies expect the first varieties to be available on the market by 2019 onwards.

“Innovation is of major importance to AVEBE and is a crucial part of our strategy. The use of biotechnology offers new possibilities for the development of crops with better composition and starch content as well as resistance against diseases,” said Gerben Meursing, Managing Director of Commerce from AVEBE. “Higher yields per hectare and a better control of fungal diseases will lead to a more sustainable production of starch potatoes and starch processing,” he added.

“This cooperation ensures European potato farmers the access to best traits,” said Marc Ehrhardt, Senior Vice President, BASF Plant Science. “The cooperation underlines our strategy and our aim to increase efficiency in farming by bringing BASF’s competence in plant biotechnology to farmers around the world in cooperation with the best partners.”

Both companies will bring in their know-how in the field of developing genetically modified amylopectin potato varieties. The companies complement each other with BASF Plant Science providing the regulatory approval experience and AVEBE contributing its breeding and starch application development expertise.

Conventional potatoes produce a mixture of amylopectin and amylosestarch. For many technical applications, such as in the paper, textile and adhesives industries, only amylopectin starch is needed. Separating the two starch components is uneconomical and environmental unfriendly.

After having switched off the gene for the production of amylose, the amylopectin starch potato produces pure amylopectin starch and thus helps to save resources, energy and costs. In addition, the resistance against major potato diseases such as late blight caused by Phytophthora infestans will lead to a better control of fungal diseases and thereby reduce the production costs of amylopectin starch further.

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