BASF Corporate Profile


BASF is the world's largest chemical company. It is composed of six business segments: chemicals (plasticizers and solvents; functional solutions (catalysts, coatings, and construction chemicals); plastics; performance products (value-added chemicals and dyes); agricultural products and nutrition; and oil and gas. One of BASF's major strategies is to capitalize on synergies amongst its diverse interests by creating huge multi-function industrial parks where plants use each other's byproducts as inputs. [1] Despite this emphasis on reuse of resources, BASF is a company responsible for numerous environmental disasters and the production of extremely toxic chemicals.

BASF at a Glance

Headquarters Ludwigshafen, Germany

Key subsidiaries Elastogran GmbH, Guano-Werke GmbH, Micro Flo Company, Tradewinds Chemicals Corporation, WINGAS GmbH, Wintershall AG[2]

Product sectors In 2009, Chemicals (15%), Plastics (14%), Performance Products (18%), Functional Solutions (14%), Agricultural Products and Nutrition (7%), Oil and Gas (22%), Other (10%)[3]

Employees In 2009, BASF had 104,779 employees worldwide employees worldwide.[4]

Manufacturing facilities BASF has approximately 386 production sites worldwide in more than 80 countries[5].

Revenues US$87.8 billion in 2008[6]

Net income BASF earned US$2.5 billion in 2004, US$4.2 billion in 2006, US$5.9 billion in 2007, and US$4.1 billion in 2008 [7]

Executive compensation In 2004, the eight members of BASF’s Board of Executive directors received EUR 14 million (approximately US$16.7 million) in compensation[8]

Type of corporation Public, traded on the New York Stock Exchange

Pesticides and Agricultural Biotechnology

BASF’s agricultural products division is based in Limburgerhof, Germany,[9] and operates in 170 countries.[10] Recent acquisitions of American Cyanamid, Micro Flo Company and Sando Agro have strengthened BASF’s position in the crop protection industry.[11] In 2003, BASF acquired the insecticide Fipronil in addition to certain fungicides for seed treatment from Bayer Crop Science.[12] In 2004, the agricultural products division posted sales of EUR 3.4 billion (approximately US$4 billion).[13]


BASF and its subsidiaries are responsible for a wide range of harmful pesticide products and ingredients, including:

Chlorfenapyr Possible carcinogen[14], and testicular and uterine endocrine disruptor.[15] Citing its environmental persistence and severe impacts on bird reproduction, EPA denied the registration of chlorfenapyr for use on cotton in 2000.[16] Meanwhile, Chlorfenapyr is currently registered for use on many food crops.[15]

Fipronil Highly effective, broad spectrum insecticide. Frequently used for cockroach and ant control as well as for pests of field corn, golf courses and commercial turf.[17] Possible carcinogen, potential ground water contaminant and suspected endocrine disruptor.[18] In 2004, Louisiana crawfish farmers and landowners who had suffered severe losses due to ICON contamination (of which fipronil is the active ingredient) received US$45 million in a class action settlement.[19]

Flucythrinate Acutely toxic, pyrethroid insecticide.[20] It is classified as a Restricted Use Pesticide by EPA, meaning it must bear the word “Danger” on the label.[21] Used to control insect pests in apples, cabbage, field corn, head lettuce, pears and cotton.[21] Suspected carcinogen, developmental toxin and endocrine disruptor.[22] It is very highly toxic to fish, insects and zooplankton and other aquatic animals.[22] Flucythrinate was banned from use in the EU starting July 2003.[20]

Hydramethylnon Persistent insecticide used in fire ant control with potential for bioaccumulation in fish.[23] According to the state of California, Hydramethylnon is a known developmental and male reproductive toxin, and a possible human carcinogen.[23] Hydramethylnon was banned from use in the EU starting July 2003. It was re-registered by EPA in December of 1998.[23]

Malathion Wide-spectrum, organophosphate insecticide. A PAN Bad Actor chemical, cholinesterase inhibitor, possible carcinogen, potential ground water contaminant, and suspected endocrine disruptor.[24] In 1976, 2,800 of 7,500 malathion applicators in Pakistan were poisoned and five died as a result of impurities produced during storage of the insecticide.[25] There is evidence that malathion causes birth defects, kidney failure and intestinal damage, as well as leukemia in children.[26]

Mecoprop-P Commonly used lawn herbicide. In lab mice, mecoprop-P has been shown to reduce fertility. A regional study in Canada revealed that human exposure to mecoprop significantly increases the risk of the cancer non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.[27] The herbicide is also frequently found in urban streams. A particularly alarming study, completed in King County, WA, found mecoprop in every urban stream sample analyzed.[27]

Mancozeb Carbamate fungicide and cholinesterase inhibitor. In test animals, it is shown to cause thyroid and carcinogenic effects. It is also known by the state of California to cause cancer in humans.[28]

Permethrin Pyrethroid insecticide and neurotoxin.[29] Permethrin is classified as a carcinogen by EPA because it causes lung and liver tumors in mice. Furthermore, the insecticide is hazardously toxic to honey bees and other beneficial insects, fish, aquatic insects, crayfish and shrimp.[29] In part because of its extreme aqua-toxicity, permethrin is an EPA restricted-use pesticide.[30]

Phorate Organophosphate pesticide. Of the three million pounds used in the U.S. annually, 80% is applied to corn, potatoes and cotton. Phorate is an acutely toxic cholinesterase inhibitor. Even low-level exposure can manifest in chronic effects such as prolonged neurological and neuromuscular symptoms.[31] The pesticide is highly toxic to birds, fish and other wildlife. In a particularly severe incident, phorate was responsible for the death of 90,000 fish in Arkansas.[31]

Terbufos Bioaccumulating, organophospate insecticide.[32] Very highly toxic to birds, mammals and fish. From 1989 to1998, terbufos was the fourth-leading cause of documented fish kills in the U.S. Its degradates may pose even more of a risk than the insecticide itself, as they are highly persistent in the environment.[32]

VinclozolinFungicide, endocrine disruptor and anti-androgen (a human hormone). Exposure to minute levels of vinclozolin has been linked to testicular tumors in rats.[33] It is suspected to be carcinogenic.[34]

Agricultural Biotechnology

In a 1998 joint venture, BASF and the Swedish seed company Svalöf Weibull AB formed BASF Plant Science GmbH, a plant biotechnology company.[35] BASF Plant Science GmbH plans to invest EUR 700 million on plant biotechnology over the next ten years with the self-described goal of increasing the stress resistance and nutritional value of crop plants.[36] In 2004, BASF Venture Capital GmbH invested in the biotech company Sciona Incorporated, located in New Haven, Connecticut. Sciona’s central focus has been to match nutrition and lifestyle choices with individual genetic profiles.[37] A year later, BASF invested in Advanced BioNutrition Corporation, in Columbia, Maryland, which concentrates on functional nutrition to prevent disease.[38] BASF’s focus is primarily on utilizing biotechnology to produce amino acids, vitamins and enzymes.[39]

Genetically engineered crops pose serious risks to public health and the environment, increase reliance on pesticides, deepen agribusiness control over farmers and undermine food security and sovereignty. Most biotech seeds are licensed to farmers, not sold: making it illegal to replant, save, trade, share or breed them as farmers have done for millennia. Global food security requires access to land, small-scale, ecologically based farming systems and the crop diversity needed to respond to varied and changing environments and growing conditions. Genetically engineered crops, in contrast, are an extension of industrial agricultural practices that concentrate land ownership, rely on synthetic pesticides, fertilizers and other off-farm inputs, and dramatically reduce crop biodiversity.

A Wide Range of Impacts

BASF’s other social and environmental impacts are very broad:

Hazardous wastes Five of BASF’s manufacturing facilities in the U.S. rank amongst the worst 10% of comparable facilities for toxic releases.[40] BASF released 17 million pound of toxins in Texas in 1996 making it Texas’ second largest polluter.[41]

Economic blackmail In 1999, BASF threatened to move a paint manufacturing plant from Ontario, Canada, to Mexico if air pollution standards were raised.[53]

Air pollution violations On two occasions in Will County, Illinois, BASF failed to notify the state’s Emergency Management Agency about air pollution discharges that were in violation of the Illinois Environmental Protection Act. In addition, the company was accused of failing to notify the agency in an appropriate manner. In 2004, as a consequence, BASF agreed to pay US$141,000 in fines.[54]

Cheating farmers In 2004, the Minnesota Supreme Court upheld an appellate court ruling against BASF for charging different prices for two products, Poast and Poast Plus. Both contained the same active ingredients and were approved for the same use by EPA. BASF was ordered to pay a US$52 million fine for charging some farmers nearly US$32 more per gallon than others.[44]

Labor practices In 1984, BASF locked out 370 members of the Oil Chemical and Atomic Workers Union from its Geismar, Louisiana, facility.[45] The lockout, which would last until 1989, was the longest in U.S. labor history.[45]

Outsourcing BASF is undertaking a major outsourcing effort. Beginning in mid-2003, the company initiated restructuring and job cuts within its North American and European business. BASF’s employees in North America have been reduced by approximately 4,000 (equivalent to 4% of its workforce).[46] This was coupled with the elimination of approximately 3,600 jobs from its main plant in Ludwigshafen, Germany.[59] Ultimately, the company has announced its plans to close a total of at least ten plants and to expand its operation in Asia,[48] including China.[49]

Illegal importation and sales of pesticides In September 2001, EPA fined Micro Flo (a wholly owned subsidiary of BASF) US$3.7 million for 673 violations of the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act relating to illegal importation and sale of millions of pounds of pesticides in the U.S.[62]

Holocaust complicity BASF was a participant in the I.G. Farben cartel (along with Bayer, Hoechst and others) which was fundamental to the creation of the Nazi war machine.[51] I.G. Farben produced synthetic oil and rubber in Auschwitz during World War II. In this venture, the company made use of approximately 83,000 laborers from concentration camps.[51] I.G. Farben also held the patent for the pesticide Zyklon, which was used in the gas chambers. After the war, I.G. Farben divided into its former constituent companies, known today as Agfa, Bayer and BASF.[51]

In Focus: Price-Fixing

In 1999, BASF was criminally fined for its involvement in a vitamin price-fixing cartel. The company was accused of conspiring with several other European and Japanese pharmaceutical companies, holding annual meetings and making secret agreements involving vitamin pricing and sales volume.[52] The vitamins most commonly affected included those used as nutritional supplements or to enrich human and animal food--among these were vitamins A, B2, B5, C, and E.[53]

As a consequence, BASF AG was ordered to pay US$225 million[54] to compensate consumers and businesses in the United States. The settlement was the largest under state laws permitting consumers and businesses to sue for damages caused by price-fixing charges.[55] Soon thereafter, in 2001, the European Commission fined the company an additional US$260 million. This brought the total expected cost of fines, out-of-court settlements, and legal expenses to about US$800 million.[56] Furthermore, as a result of this scheme, BASF also has faced a class action lawsuit.[56]

According to Joel I. Klein, former U.S. Assistant Attorney General, “During the life of the conspiracy, virtually every American consumer paid artificially inflated prices for vitamins and vitamin enriched foods in order to feed the greed of these defendants and their co-conspirators who reaped hundreds of millions of dollars in additional revenues.”[57]

Undue Influence

To advance their interests, powerhouses like BASF invest heavily in political and social influence. Some of BASF’s efforts to influence policy and public opinion include:

Trade organizations and think tanks Some of the trade and policy organizations in which BASF participates include:

Campaign contributions During the 2004 election cycle, BASF Political Action Committees (PACs) contributed US$87,000 to candidates for federal office in the U.S. Meanwhile, individual BASF employees contributed US$12,200 during the same period.[58] In the 2000 and 2002 election cycles, BASF PACs contributed about US$220,000 to candidates for federal office (more than 80% Republican).[58] Furthermore, BASF made a total of US$140,247 in soft money contributions to the Republican and Democratic parties in the 1998, 2000 and 2002 election cycles.[58]

Lobbying Between 1998 to 2004, BASF spent US$4,490,000 lobbying in Washington. In 2004 alone, BASF spent a total of US$460,000 lobbying the U.S. government.[58] Additionally, many of the trade organizations to which BASF belongs deploy teams of lobbyists that work on behalf of the company’s interests.

Resources for Action

The following resources are good starting points for more information about BASF and how you can help hold BASF accountable for its impacts.

BASF’s Web site.

Scorecard (
Environmental Defense’s toxic release information Web site. You can look up BASF’s toxic release information and locations of its U.S. facilities.

Hoovers online
Provides financial information about BASF and links to detailed reports and filings.

PAN Pesticides Database
Pesticide Action Network North America’s pesticide database allows you to search for toxicity, regulatory and other information by chemical or product.

[1] <*9c24ig3bcp-WA > on 12 August 2010.

[2] “BASF List of Shares Held 2009,” BASF Group, <> on 12 August 2010.

[3] “BASF Business Review by Segment: 2009 Report" <> on 12 August 2010.

[4] <> on 12 August 2010.

[5] <> on 12 August 2010.

[6] Yahoo Finance: BASF Profile <> on August 12 2010.

[7] Yahoo Finance: BASF Income Statement<> on 12 August 2010.

[8] “Compensation of Director and Officers,” BASF, 2004, <*GSJ4kskbcp0dP> on 30 September 2005.

[9] “Agricultural Products: Facts and Figures,” BASF Group: The Chemical Company, <> on 3 October 2005.

[10] “Agricultural Products: Facts and Figures,” BASF Group, <> on 29 March 2004.

[11] “Agricultural Products: Facts and Figures,” BASF Group, <> on 29 March 2004.

[12] “Agricultural Products: Facts and Figures,” BASF Group: The Chemical Company, <> on 3 October 2005.

[13] “Agricultural Products: Facts and Figures,” BASF Group: The Chemical Company, <> on 3 October 2005.

[14] “Toxicity Information for Chlorfenapyr,” PAN Pesticide Database-Chemicals, <> on 12 August 2010.

[15] “Chlorfenapyr,” Fluoride Action Network Pesticide Project, <> on 12 August 2010.

[16] “EPA Determines that Chlorfenapyr Does Not Meet the Requirements for Registration; American Cyanamid Withdraws Application,” Environmental Protection Agency, <> on 12 August 2010.

[17] “Fipronil,” Pesticide Action Network UK, June 2000, <> on 12 August 2010.

[18] “Fipronil,” PAN Pesticides Database,< >on 12 August 2010.

[19] “Fipronil,” Fluoride Action Nework Pesticide Project, <> on 12 August 2010.

[20] “Flucythrinate,” Fluoride Action Network Pesticide Project, <> on 12 August 2010.

[21] “Flucythrinate,” Extonxnet: Extension Toxicology Network, <> on 12 August 2010.

[22] “Flucythrinate,” PAN Pesticide Database, <> on 12 August 2010.

[23] “Hydramethylnon,” Fluoride Action Network Pesticide Project, <> on 12 August 2010.

[24] “Malathion,” PAN Pesticide Database - Chemicals, <> on 12 August 2010.

[25] W. N. Aldridge et al, “Malathion Not as Safe as Believed – 5 Die – 2,800 Poisoned,” Archives in Toxicology, 1979, <> on 12 August 2010.

[26] “Malathion Index,” Malation Medical Research, <> on 12 August 2010.

[27] Caroline Cox, “Herbicide FactSheet: Mecoprop,” Journal of Pesticide Reform Vol. 24, No. 1, Spring 2004, <> on 12 August 2010.

[28] “Mancozeb FactSheet,” Center for Ethics and Toxics, <> on 12 August 2010.

[29] Caroline Cox, “Insecticide FactSheet: Permethrin,” Journal of Pesticide Reform, Vol. 18, No. 2, Summer 1998, <> on 12 August 2010.

[30] “Pesticide Information Profile: Permethrin,” Extension Toxicology Network, September 1993, <> on 12 August 2010.

[31] “Pesticide Profiles: Phorate,” American Bird Conservancy, <> on 12 August 2010.

[32] “Pesticide Profiles: Terbufos,” American Bird Conservancy, <> on 12 August 2010.

[33] L. E. Gray et al., “Environmental Antiandrogens: Low doses of the Fungicide Vinclozolin Alter Sexual Differentiation of the Male Rat,” Toxicology and Industrial Health, 1999, <> on 12 August 2010.

[34] “Vinclozolin,” Pesticide Action Network UK, December 2000, <> on 12 August 2010.

[35] “BASF Plant Science GmbH,” Bloomberg Businessweek, <> on 12 August 2010.

[36] “Crop Protection, Business Overview” BASF Group, <> on 12 August 2010.

[37] “Sciona, Inc. Closes Second Round of Financing for $4.1 Million; Financing Will Support Expansion” Business Wire, 20 September 2004, <> on 12 August 2010.

[38] “BASF Venture Capital invests in biotechnology company Advanced BioNutrition Corp,” BASF Venture Capital , <> on 12 August 2010.

[39] “BASF,” Chemie-De, 3 July 2006, <> on 12 August 2010.

[40] See <>on 12 August 2010.

[41] News Release, Texans for Public Justice, “Texas Chemical Council Members Dump: 187 Million Pound of Toxins in Texas, Up to $10 million into State Politics,” 11 August 1999, <> on 12 August 2010.

[53] Martin Mittelstaedt, “Higher Standards to Curb Solvent Emissions Will Drive BASF Plant to Mexico, Firm Says,” The Globe and Mail, 2 June 1999, <> on 30 March 2004.

[54] Madigan, Tomczak, "Reach Agreement with Delaware Corporation Over Air Pollution Allegations,” Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan Press Release, 16 March 2004, <> on 30 March 2004.

[44] “BASF Loses Appeal of $52 million suit," 19 March 2003 <> on 12 August 2010.

[45] “ Panel 4: Union Action,” Oil, Chemical & Atomic Workers Union, <> on 12 August 2010.

[46] “BASF has a strong start in North America,” BASF The Chemical Company, 28 April 2005, <> on 18 October 2005.

[59] “BASF Aktiengesellschaft,” Hoovers Online, <> on 18 October 2005.

[48] “BASF shuts plants,” BBC News, 21 June 2001, <> on 12 August 2010.

[49]“BASF in Greater China” BASF: The Chemical Company, <> on 12 August 2010.

[62] “NewsNote: BASF Subsidiary Fined for Illegal U.S. Pesticide Sales,” Global Pesticide Campaigner, Vol. 11, No. 3, December 2001, <> on 30 March 2004.

[51] Borkin, Joseph, The Crime and Punishment of IG Farben, New York: Free Press, 1978.

[52] “Vitamin Price Fixing Investigation Expanded,” FindLaw, 1999, <> on 12 August 2010.

[53] “Hoffmann-La Roche and BASF Agree to Pay Record Criminal Fines for Participating in International Vitamin Cartel,” Department of Justice, 21 May 1999, <> on 12 August 2010.

[54] “More Price Fixing Scandals to Come, Expert Says,” AG Answers, 31 August 1999, <> on 12 August 2010.

[55] “Indirect Vitamin Lawsuit Settled,” Food Ingredient News, volume 9, Issue 7, October 2001.

[56] “BASF Aktiengesellschaft,” Hoover’s Online <> on 18 October 2005.

[57] “Hoffmann-La Roche and BASF Agree to Pay Record Criminal Fines for Participating in International Vitamin Cartel,” Department of Justice, 21 May 1999, <> on 18 October 2005.

[58] “BASF CORP, Contributions from Chemical & Related Manufacturing Ind, Source of Funds (2000-2010 Election Cycle),” Open Secrets, <> on 12 August 2010.