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17 May, 2006 - 12:08 By Staff Reporter

Scientists out to pasture as French firm wields axe

Around 25 scientists will lose their jobs following the closure of one of Cambridge’s longest established biotechs – Biogemma on the city’s Science Park.

Entrenched opposition to genetically-modified crops is understood to be at least partly to blame for the decision, which will also see the smallest of the company’s three French labs, Evry, closed down.

Dr Jeroen Wilmer, acting site director told Business Weekly: “The downturn in seed sales Europe-wide has led our parent companies to scale down their bio activities. Unfortunately Cambridge is one of two operations to be closed.”

The rationalisation will see Biogemma’s total workforce reduced from 123 to 86.

Research carried out at the Cambridge lab centred around transgenics, investigating, for example, the genetic modification of food crops to make them resistant to drought and disease.

Dr Wilmer said that only a handful of staff would be redeployed elsewhere within the French company.

Biogemma was established in 1997 and is jointly owned by Limagrain and Euralis, RAGT and the financial arms of two French grower cooperatives.

The Cambridge operation has been in the area since 1987 and was formerly run by the Nickerson Seed company.

Biogemma said in a statement that it believed new legislation currently passing through the French parliament would provide the optimum framework for the company’s research operations – another reason for its retrenchment to France.

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