Very close to the downtown area of Frankfurt, Germany, lies a sprawling 11/2 -sq.-mile industrial park that straddles both sides of the Main River. It’s an impressive sight, with all the trappings you’d expect. It is here where Bayer CropScience houses its global research and development programs of the company’s herbicides.
The industrial park is more than the place where Bayer CropScience has offices and staff. The roots of Bayer CropScience can be traced back to 1863, when on this very site the company that would later become Hoechst was founded.
Like many of the chemical companies in Europe, the company that became Hoechst initially focused on making dyes for the textile industry. Later, the company migrated into pharmaceuticals and later crop protection. At one time, Hoechst was the largest pharmaceutical company in the world and took up the entire industrial park.
The crop protection research and development started in earnest in the 1950s, with first nitrogen production and then the development of herbicides. The early development of the urea herbicides was here. As the herbicide and fungicide business grew, so did research and development at the site. Glufosinate was discovered in its laboratories, and the company was a major developer of safener technology.
“This facility has a long history of strong research and development of crop protection products,” says Hermann Stübler, head of weed control for Bayer CropScience. “We have been pioneers in the area of herbicide development.”
Through various mergers and acquisitions within the entire industry through the 1990s, the key components of the herbicide research and development business, as well as insecticide and fungicide research components, were acquired by Bayer CropScience. And while the industrial park is now occupied with many other tenants, Bayer CropScience remains one of the larger businesses, employing more than 700 people in research and development as well as formulation of active ingredients.
“Working closely with our colleagues around the world, our activities here allow us to discover and identify new candidates for weed control for the global market,” Stübler says.