Bayer Corporate Profile

Bayer AG is a multinational, multi-industry corporation that produces a range of chemical products including pesticides, plastics, and pharmaceuticals. Over the years Bayer AG has been associated with terrible environmental scandals, bad labor practices and public health issues. The following is a brief overview of Bayer AG with an emphasis on its Bayer CropScience division.

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Bayer at a Glance [1]

Headquarters Leverkusen, Germany

Major sub-groups Bayer Health Care (EUR 16 billion in revenue), Bayer CropScience (EUR 6.5 billion), and Bayer MaterialScience (EUR 7.5 billion). Bayer AG also has a Services division that provides Business and Technology services.

Employees 108,400 worldwide as of Dec 31, 2009.  

Sales distribution Bayer operates through hundreds of companies on six continents. In 2009 Bayer posted sales in Europe (EUR 13 billion), North America (EUR €7.7 billion), Asia Pacific (EUR 5.7 billion), Latin America, Africa and the Middle East (EUR 4.8 billion)

Revenues 2009 revenue of EUR 31.17 billion.  

Net income In 2009, EUR 1.36 billion

Executive compensation The Board of Management was paid the following amounts in 2009: CEO Werner Wenning: EUR 3,567,000; Director of Finance Klaus Kuhn: EUR 2,181,000, Director of Innovation Wolfgang Plischke: EUR 1,843,000 and Director of Labor Richard Pott: EUR 1,833,000.

Type of corporation Public (traded on the New York Stock Exchange under the name BAY).

 

Pesticides and Agricultural Biotechnology

In 2002, the US$7 billion acquisition of Aventis CropScience by Bayer Crop Protection led to the formation of Bayer CropScience.[2] The deal transformed Bayer AG from the 7th largest player in the agrochemical industry to the 2nd largest. [3] The new Bayer CropScience said it was "determined to promote the health and well-being of humankind and nature to the best of [its] ability." Its agricultural products, however, tell a different story.

Pesticides

Bayer CropScience is responsible for a wide range of harmful pesticide products and ingredients, including:

Aldicarb An extremely toxic, highly persistent, water soluble, restricted use insecticide, Aldicarb is a cholinesterase inhibitor and has been found at levels in excess of EPA drinking water standards in 11 states.[4] Aldicarb is dermally active and residues on food or in drinking water pose grave risks to humans. In one instance of exposure where 1300 people consumed residues on watermelon, aldicarb caused two stillbirths in exposed pregnant women, and grand mal seizures in an exposed boy. [4]

Azinphos-methyl In 2001, the EPA canceled 28 crop uses of azinphos-methyl because of its proven toxicity;[5] meanwhile, Bayer continued to claim that they had "convincingly demonstrate[d] the safety of azinphos-methyl for farm workers." Azinphos-methyl is particularly hazardous to marine life, and has been linked to the death of up to a million fish in Lousiana. [6] It was also  implicated as the culprit of widespread fish death in Canada's Wilmot River. [6] In terms of human harm, this chemical is particularly dangerous as a cholinesterase inhibitor. [7]

Baysiston Baysiston is a combination of the chemicals Triadimenol (a possible carcinogen and a suspected endocrine disruptor) [7] and Disulfoton (a cholinesterase inhibitor). [7]This pesticide remains number one on the Brazilian market. It has poisoned hundreds of coffee growers, killing at least 30, but Bayer negotiated with hospitals so that death certificates would no longer state "pesticide poisoning" or "Baysiston intoxication" as cause of death.[8]

Carbofuran Highly toxic carbamate insecticide. According to EPA, carbofuran has been linked to more bird deaths than any other pesticide, including those of Bald and Golden Eagles.[9] In 1998, carbofuran was linked to the poisonings of 34 cotton workers in California.[10]

Endosulfan Highly hazardous organochlorine insecticide now banned in the US. In the 1999/2000 crop season, Beninese officials documented 37 deaths from endosulfan poisoning in the northern Borgou province alone.[11] Endosulfan has been linked to damaged sexual organs and delayed sexual development in boys in India and the US.[12] Endosulfan also presents a grave danger to wildlife, including the death of an estimated 240,000 fish in Alabama in 1995.[13]

Fenamiphos Extremely toxic, environmentally persistent, water soluble organophopate insecticide that was created as a nerve gas during WWII.[14] In August of 2002, Bayer announced the voluntary cancellation of fenamiphos in the U.S. over a five-year period.[15]

Fenthion Highly toxic, organophosphate insecticide used primarily for adult mosquito control (also used to kill birds).[16] Fenthion accumulates in fat tissues presenting a dietary threat and is carcinogenic according to the National Institute of Health.[16] In March of 2003, in response to public pressure from the American Birds Conservancy and expensive EPA requirements for additional testing, Bayer voluntarily withdrew fenthion from the U.S. market.[17]

Fipronil Divested by Aventis CropScience as a requirement of its purchase by Bayer, fipronil is a broad-spectrum insecticide used in 70 countries.[18] In 1997, fipronil was applied by the government of Madagascar to control a locust epidemic.[19] In a study of 100 people living in a spray area, 60% exhibited symptoms of pesticide poisoning. Among 38 people tested further, 80% showed reduction in cholinesterase activity.[19]

Glufosinate-ammonium This chemical is widely used in the U.S. on Bayer’s genetically engineered herbicide-resistant crops. Glufosinate has been found to have adverse effects on the brain; specifically, it acts as a "mock neurotransmitter" with significant effects. Exposure is particularly hazardous to embryos and babies, and can affect behavior.[20]

LindaneUsed agriculturally as a seed treatment and in lice treatment shampoos, this persistent, bioaccumulative and toxic chemical is formulated and distributed in the U.S. by the company’s subsidiary, Gustafson LLC. Lindane is a dangerous pesticide that accumulates in people’s bodies and builds up in the environment. Traveling on wind and air currents, lindane is particularly problematic in the Arctic, where food supplies of indigenous peoples are highly contaminated. More than 50 countries have already banned lindane.[21] Bayer is now the top lindane producer in the U.S.[22]

Methyl parathion Restricted use insecticide and one of the most toxic organophosphates on the market. [23] According to one estimate, more than 320,000 children aged one to five consume methyl parathion in excess of the reference (“acceptable”) dose every day.[24] Methyl parathion is a WHO class 1 extremely hazardous chemical [25] and a neurotoxicant. [7]

Agricultural Biotechnology

When Bayer AG acquired Aventis CropScience it became an industry leader in agricultural biotechnology. In 2007, 37% of Bayer CropScience's total sales were patented products. The company aims to increase this to 55% by 2015. [26] To "increase prices" is also one of the company's stated goals.[26] Aventis CropScience came under fire for the contamination of up to 25% of the U.S. corn supply with its genetically engineered StarLink corn, which was not approved for human consumption.[27]

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, prohibiting farmers from replanting, saving, trading, sharing or breeding seeds as they have done for millennia. Global food security requires access to land; small-scale, sustainably based farming systems; and the crop diversity 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

Bayer's social and environmental impacts are very broad:

Hazardous wastes Bayer and Aventis subsidiaries are responsible for 24 Superfund sites.[28] Twelve of Bayer’s 19 industrial facilities in the U.S. rank amongst the worst 50% of comparable facilities in total toxic releases.[28]

Pesticide and chemical dumping Bayer dumped acid in both the North Sea and the Rhine as well as obsolete pesticides, including highly toxic chlorinated organomercury compounds, in Nepal. [29]

Human rights and labor violations In July 2000, OSHA fined Bayer US$135,000 for health and safety violations at their Baytown, Texas, facility.In Guatemala, Bayer employees have no contracts and no employment rights.Bayer violated safety regulations in Indonesia, operated in South Africa under apartheid and has had chemical explosions at its facilities in Germany and Madagascar among other places.[30]

Use of human subjects [31] Bayer tested the pesticide azinphos-methyl (see above) on 50 subjects in Scotland.One subject of the 1998 experiment claims he was not told that the substance he was exposed to was a pesticide. Furthermore, he did not receive any long-term follow-up or appropriate medical care.Despite EPA restrictions against human subject data, Bayer’s evident motive was to forcefully convince EPA to reverse pesticide controls introduced to protect children.

Medical scandals Bayer’s medical scandals have been numerous. The company was implicated and sued for infecting thousands of hemophiliac individuals in the U.S., Germany and Japan with HIV and hepatitis C.[32]In the wake of the 2001 Anthrax exposures in the U.S., the company monopolized production of the drug Cipro, charging exorbitant prices.[29] In 2003, Bayer was ordered to pay a fine of $250 million for making inflated Medicaid claims.[33]

Misleading advertisements Following successful legal action by Earth Action, Bayer CropScience was forced to withdraw an ad for its herbicide Admire in Canada that made illegal claims such as “pesticides are safe.”[34] In 2002, Bayer was forced to spend US$1 million on advertising to retract misleading statements made about the benefits of aspirin as a preventative measure against heart attacks.[35]


Undue Influence

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

Trade organizations and think tanks [29] Some of the trade and policy organizations in which Bayer participates include:

Campaign contributionsIn the U.S., Bayer PACs contributed $834,000 to candidates for federal office between 1996 and 2002.[36] In 2000, Bayer made $93,580 in soft money donations to the Republican party.[37] Bayer employees also made $26,376 worth of direct donations to candidates for federal office in 2002.[37] In 2004, the company contributed $37,000 to House Democrats, $129,500 to House Republicans, $25,000 to Senate Democrats, and $62,000 to Senate Republicans.[37]


Resources for Action

Many people and organizations around the world are taking action to hold Bayer accountable for its impacts. The following resources are good starting points for more information about Bayer and how you can help in these efforts.

Bayer (http://www.bayer.com)
Bayer’s Web site.

Scorecard (http://www.scorecard.org)

Environmental Defense's toxic release information Web site. Makes available Syngenta's toxic release information and locations of its U.S. facilities.

Hoovers online
(http://www.hoovers.com/bayer-ag/--ID__41808--/free-co-factsheet.xhtml)
Provides financial information about Bayer and links to detailed reports and filings.

Coalition against Bayer-Dangers
(http://www.cbgnetwork.org/index.html)
Newsletter and other compiled resources about Bayer AG.

Stop Bayer's GM Crops
(http://www.stopbayergm.org/)
Web-site devoted to combating the spread of Bayer's GM crops.

Corporate watch
(http://www.corporatewatch.org.uk/profiles/bayer/bayer1.html)
Corporate Watch's corporate profile of Bayer.

PAN Pesticides Database
(http://www.pesticideinfo.org)
Pesticide Action Network North America's pesticide database allows you to search for toxicity, regulatory and other information by chemical or product.



[1] Bayer AG 2009 Annual Report: http://www.annualreport2009.bayer.com/en/homepage.aspx

[2] "Bayer and Aventis Reach Agreement on Final Purchase Price," Bay News International , 8 March 2004, <http://www.bayercropscience.com/bcsweb/cropprotection.nsf/id/EN_Bayer_and_Aventis_reach_agreement_on_final_purchase_price?open&l=EN&ccm=500020890> on 10 August 2010

[3] "CropScience Deal Biggest Buyout in Bayer's History," Financial Times , Canada, 3 October 2001, < http://www.biotech-info.net/biggest_buyout.html > on 10 August 2010.

[4] "Pesticide Profiles: Aldicarb," American Bird Conservancy, < http://www.abcbirds.org/abcprograms/policy/pesticides/Profiles/aldicarb.html > on 10 August 2010.

[5] EPA Website: http://www.epa.gov/oppsrrd1/REDs/factsheets/azm_fs.htm on 10 August 2010.

[6] Archived Beyond Pesticides Article: http://www.whale.to/a/pest.html

[7] PAN Pesticide Information Database: http://www.pesticideinfo.org/

[8] "BAYER and the UN Global Compact," Coalition against BAYER-Dangers (CBG), <http://www.cbgnetwork.org/home/UN_Global_Compact/un_global_compact.html > on August 10, 2010.

[9] "Birds and Pesticides: Carbofuran," Defenders of Wildlife , 24 July 2008 < http://www.defenders.org/newsroom/press_releases_folder/2008/07_24_2008_epa_issues_landmark_decision_to_prohibit_deadly_pesticide_carbofuran_residues_on_food.php > on 10 August 2010.

[10] "Farm Worker Illness Following Exposure to Carbofuran and Other Pesticides - - Fresno County, California, 1998," Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report , 19 February 1999, < http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/00056485.htm > on 10 August 2010.

[11] "Endosulfan Deaths and Poisonings in Benin," Pesticides News , No. 47, March 2000, < http://www.getipm.com/articles/benin-deaths.htm > on 10 August 2010.

[12] "Young Males Exposed to Pesticide Endosulfan See Delay in Sexual Maturation," Environmental Health Perspectives , 1 December 2003, < http://ehp.niehs.nih.gov/press/120103.html > on 10 August 2010.

[13] "End of the Road for Endosulfan: A Call for Action Against a Dangerous Pesticide," Environmental Justice Foundation , 2002, <http://www.ejfoundation.org/pdfs/end_of_the_road.pdf > on 10 August 2010.

[14]"Pesticide Profiles: Fenamiphos," American Bird Conservancy, <http://www.abcbirds.org/abcprograms/policy/pesticides/Profiles/fenamiphos.html> on 10 August 2010.

[15] EPA website: http://www.epa.gov/oppsrrd1/REDs/factsheets/fenamiphos_ired_fs.htm

[16] “Fenthion Kills Birds,” Keycode Bayer, No. 58, <http://www.cbgnetwork.org/home/Newsletter_KCB/KCB__58/kcb__58.html> on 10 August 2010.

[17] EPA website: http://www.epa.gov/opp00001/reregistration/fenthion/ on 10 August 2010.

[18] “BASF Finalizes Acquisition of Fipronil,” Delta Farm Press, 11 April 2003, <http://deltafarmpress.com/ar/farming_basf_finalizes_acquisition/> on 10 August 2010.

[19] “Locust Control in Madagascar,” Pesticide Action Network Updates Service, 10 July 2000, <http://www.panna.org/resources/panups/panup_20000710.dv.html> on 10 August 2010.

[20] “Bayer’s GE Crop Herbicide, Glufosinate, Causes Brain Damage,” Coalition against BAYER-Dangers (CBG), 7 December 2004, <http://www.cbgnetwork.org/home/home.html>on 10 August 2010.

[21] See PAN Lindane resource: <http://www.panna.org/campaigns/lindane.html>.

[22] “Bayer CropScience To Purchase Crompton’s Share of Gustafson Seed Treatment Business,”Bayer.com, 22 March 2004 <http://www.bayercropscience.com/bcsweb/cropprotection.nsf/id/EN_Bayer_CropScience_to_purchase_Cromptons_share_of_Gustafson_seed_treatment_business?open&l=EN&ccm=500020890> on 10 August 2010.

[23] EPA website: http://www.epa.gov/pesticides/factsheets/chemicals/mpfactsheet.htm

[24] Richard Wiles et al, “Comments on Preliminary Risk Assessment Document for Methyl Parathion,” Environmental Working Group. 12 February 1999. (Available online as part of UNEP Report: http://www.pic.int/incs/crc2/q17add6%29/English/CRC2-17-add6.pdf)

[25] PAN UK website: http://www.pan-uk.org/pestnews/Actives/methylpa.htm

[26] "Positioned for Growth", Bayer Crop Science, June 2008, <www.investor.bayer.com/user_upload/3000/> on 10 August 2010. 

[27] “Genetically Engineered Food: StarLink Corn,” Organic Consumers Association, <http://www.organicconsumers.org/starlink.htm> on 10 August 2010.

[28] See <http://www.scorecard.org/>.

[29] “Bayer AG: A Corporate Profile,” Corporate Watch UK, March 2002, <http://www.corporatewatch.org.uk/?lid=317> on 10 August 2010.

[30] “Bayer Corporate Fact Sheet,” Pesticide Action Network North America, <http://www.panna.org/resources/documents/bayer.dv.html> on 13 March 2004.

[31] Jennifer Johnston, “He Was Used to Test ‘Highly Hazardous’ Pesticides Then Forgotten About,” Sunday Herald, 8 September 2002. Print.

[32] Jim H Zamora, "Bad Blood between haemophiliacs, Bayer: Patients sue over tainted transfusions spreading HIV, Hep C", San Francisco Chronicle, 3 June 2003,  <http://ww2.aegis.com/news/sc/2003/SC030603.html> on 13 August 2010.

[33]  “Big Fines Seen in US Probe of 2 Drugmakers,” Keycode Bayer, No. 79, <http://www.cbgnetwork.org/home/Newsletter_KCB/KCB__79/kcb__79.html> on 13 August 2010.

[34] “Canada: Pesticide Companies Ordered to Change Ads,” Keycode Bayer, No. 111, <http://www.cbgnetwork.org/home/Newsletter_KCB/KCB__111/kcb__111.html> on 13 August 2010.

[35] “Bayer Aspirin Ads Mislead the Public Again,” HealthFacts, March 2004, <http://www.findarticles.com/cf_dls/m0815/3_29/113778910/p1/article.jhtml> on 13 August 2010.

[36] Information acquired from online searchable database of FEC PAC filings at <http://www.politicalmoneyline.com/> on 26 December 2003.

[37] Information acquired from online search at <http://www.opensecrets.org> on 26 December 2003.