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Novartis to Build Research Center in San Diego

July 22, 1998|Bloomberg News

Switzerland's Novartis, the world's largest drug and crop chemical company, said it will spend $600 million during the next decade on a research center in San Diego to help it compete in the emerging market for genetically improved crops. The Novartis Agricultural Discovery Institute will employ 180 researchers who will identify and develop genes to protect crops against disease and insects, or improve their nutritional composition. The move is the strongest signal yet that Novartis intends to make biotechnology a cornerstone of its growth after watching from the sidelines as rivals such as Monsanto and DuPont carved up the U.S. market for corn and soybean seed. Novartis is the second-largest seed company in the world after Des Moines-based Pioneer Hi-Bred International. If all of Monsanto's proposed acquisitions are approved by the Justice Department, Novartis will slip to third place.

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