Subsidies not suitable to promote industrial biotech – BASF official

04 April 2014 17:05  [Source: ICIS news]

LONDON (ICIS)--BASF rejects the use of subsidies, quotas or special taxes to promote industrial biotechology, a spokesman for the Germany-based international chemicals major said on Friday.

Subsidies or prescribing quotas for the use of renewable materials, and special taxes on fossil-based raw materials, were not suitable policy tools to promote industrial biotechnology, Thomas Nonnast, BASF's spokesman for political issues, corporate governance, and energy and climate, told ICIS in an interview.

“Subsidies cannot overcome numerous shortcomings in R&D,” Nonnast said

“Even if new fields of application can be created artificially by way of subsidies, most of them are unlikely to hold their own in competition,” he said.

At the same time, BASF rejected proposals for quotas for the use of renewable materials, or ideas to tax the use of fossil-based raw materials in order to promote renewables in Germany.

“The use of fossil raw materials is not taxed anywhere else in the world so that a tax solely in Germany or in the EU would significantly weaken the competitiveness of the chemical industry - and thus its ability to develop new fields of application for renewables,” Nonnast said.

Nonnast added that it was important for Germany’s industrial biotechnology industry to be able to import renewable raw materials at world market prices.

“The majority of renewables for material use in the German chemical industry are imported into this country,” he said.

Germany, and also the EU, have only limited potential for further expanding agricultural areas for biomass production, he said.

“Against this backdrop, Germany, and also Europe, will remain extremely dependent on raw material imports – even in a more biomass-based economy,” Nonnast said.

“This makes it so much more important to reduce or eliminate existing trade obstacles for renewables used for industrial purposes, in order to ensure supplies of raw materials to the chemical industry in the required quantities and at competitive world market prices,” he said.

“The necessary steps should be taken within the agricultural policy” of the EU, he added.

BASF sees industrial biotechnology as a key technology for its future, complementing its expertise in chemicals. The company has launched many industrial biotechnology projects and partnerships within and outside of Germany.

By: Stefan Baumgarten
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