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A Few of Bayer’s Corporate Crimes

When most of us hear the brand name “Bayer” we think of aspirin. But Bayer AG, based in Leverkusen, Germany is a major producer of chemicals, pharmaceuticals, pesticides, and plastics. The company employs 120,000 people worldwide and its annual sales are some $28 billion. The U.S. is its largest market, and the company has facilities in Mexico, Brazil, South Africa, India, Thailand, China, Japan and many European countries

Bayer has a long history of giving profits precedence over human rights and environmental concerns. During the First World War the company invented Chemical Warfare (“moisture gas”) and built up a “School for Chemical Warfare.” Thirty years later Bayer was part of the conglomerate IG Farben, which worked closely with the Third Reich. IG Farben exploited several hundred thousand slave workers at their plant in Auschwitz. It also took over companies throughout Europe and used human guinea pigs for pharmaceutical research. IG Farbens subsidiary Degesch manufactured Zyklon B, the poison gas used in the gas chambers. In the late 1930’s organophosphates (sarine, tabun) were introduced, after the war marketed by Bayer as pesticides (E 605, Folidol, Nemacur, Fenthion). IG Farbens managers were convicted as war criminals at the Nuremberg Trials. After the war Farben was broken up into BASF, Bayer and Hoechst (now called Aventis), and the three firms still cooperate closely and exert a large influence on German and European politics

Corporate Lobbying

Bayer also leverages its economic clout in the political arena. Since the 1920’s the company has financed German political parties and several Bayer managers became ministers in German governments. Today, Bayer is a member of hundreds of lobby groups tackling ‘trade barriers’ like environmental or health and safety laws. The European Round Table of Industrialists effectively writes big chunks of EU corporate legislation. Bayer also helped set up the Transatlantic Business Dialogue, where European and US multinationals work together to influence policy in the direction of greater liberalization and deregulation. Other lobby groups that Bayer takes an active role in are the International Chamber of Commerce, the Global Crop Protection Federation and the German Verband der Chemischen Industrie and Bundesverband der Deutschen Industrie. Bayer supported President Bush’s electoral campaign with $120,000. In the last five years Bayer has handed out more than $600,000 to US politicians.

Quoted from: Bayer and the UN Global Compact, How and Why a Major Pharmaceutical and Chemical Company “Bluewashes” its Image, Special Series By Philipp Mimkes, Coalition Against Bayer Dangers, July 19, 2002