Dr. Léon Broers

Dr. Léon Broers (born in 1960 in Kerkrade, Netherlands) joined the KWS Group in 2007 and took responsibility for Research and Breeding on the Executive Board. Dr. Broers is a plant breeder through and through. After studying plant breeding at Wageningen University, Dr. Broers specialized in breeding cereals. He gained his doctorate in resistance breeding for wheat in 1989.

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Better and more reliable yields with less pesticide and fertilizer! That’s sustainable! And that’s the potential of plant breeding.
Dr. Léon Broers, Board member of KWS SAAT SE & Co. KGaA

Career

2007

He joins KWS as the Executive Board member in charge of Research and Breeding.

2001

He studies for an MBA alongside his job from 2001 to 2003.

1997

He moves to the Dutch vegetable breeder Nunhems as Head of Breeding for EuMEA, managing the European breeding programs for various crops until 2006.

1995

He returns to Europe and joins Lochow Petkus in Allones, France; in his capacity as station manager, he is responsible for wheat breeding.

1989

After gaining his doctorate, he works at the Centro Internacional de Mejoramiento de Maíz y Trigo (CIMMYT) in Mexico. As a research assistant, he is involved in research programs in South America and Africa in the field of resistance breeding of various cereals.

Digging deeper: Dr. Léon Broers about …

…investments in research and breeding

“We believe in modern and sustainable agriculture. The goal of our breeding work is to provide farmers with precisely those varieties that meet their needs. Whether conventional or organic farming – that’s immaterial. We offer seed that is adapted to the climate and soil conditions of the various regions, offers increased yield and reduces pesticide use. We undertake enormous efforts to fulfill that mission. KWS is by tradition a research-driven company. That includes investing in innovation and continually increasing our research and breeding expenditure. It accounted for some 18.5 percent of our net sales in the past fiscal year.”

…the importance of innovative technologies

“Climate change, limited resources and higher productivity requirements are making breeding more and more complex and challenging. The growing demand for vegetable raw materials means we depend on innovation. Instead of expanding acreage, the earlier way of increasing the quantity grown, today’s goal is to minimize crop loss while maximizing yield. This makes it increasingly vital to identify promising research topics and technologies, and, even more importantly, to incorporate these into breeding.”

…the use of new breeding methods

“It’s important to differentiate here. Methods that do not involve the transfer of genes and gene components from other species result in nature-identical products. In July 2018, the European Court of Justice issued a ruling that attracted a lot of attention: Plants that are bred with the aid of targeted mutagenesis and do not differ from conventional varieties are also subject in the EU to the strict approval requirements applying under genetic engineering law. We believe the latest breeding methods, such as genome editing, can make an important contribution to more sustainable and high-yielding agriculture and expand genetic variation for a greater diversity of varieties. KWS continues to invest in precision breeding, even after the ECJ’s ruling. In this way, we can achieve breeding goals faster, such as improved plant resistance to diseases, pests and abiotic stress.”