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KEYCODE BAYER #210

6 October 2005

Cooperation with BAYER - Open Letter to Pittsburgh Filmmakers

Dear Pittsburgh Filmmakers,

We read about the Environmental Film Festival you are organizing in cooperation with Bayer Corporation. We believe Bayer is not a good choice to partner with when pursuing environmental goals.

Our group Coalition against BAYER-dangers, based in Germany, has been monitoring the company for 25 years. During this period we have documented hundreds of cases when Bayer´s products or factories harmed people or the environment. For example:

For more examples please visit the English part of our website or read our article Bayer and the UN Global Compact.

Bayer has a long tradition in trying to "greenwash" its image. The company started dozens of partnerships and sponsorships with medical, environmental or educational organizations and even the United Nations. In particular Bayer chooses cooperations in fields where the company is criticized. Bayer has been using these partnerships to deflect criticism by watchdog groups or the media and to use the good image of their partners to present a corporate humanitarian image without a commitment to changing real-world behavior.

In 1999 we were invited to Pittsburgh to hold a series of lectures about Bayer´s suppressed role in the Third Reich. The cooperation with groups in Pittsburgh started when Bayer Corporation wanted to donate money to Jewish communities without discussing their past. We would be happy if the Pittsburgh Filmmakers would also question their partnership with this controversial company.

With Regards,
Philipp Mimkes, Coalition against BAYER-dangers

letter fom Pittsburgh Filmmakers, March 2006

Herr Mimkes,

The Pittsburgh Filmmakers mission is to help enable people interested
in learning, viewing and making media arts. We believe the CAUSE
Challenge is a good opportunity to engage local students in the
process of democratizing media, and empowering these constituents
with voice. We believe participants in the CAUSE Challenge, as well
as others who learn of the Challenge, and their ability to understand
the complex issues surrounding corporate underwriting, should not be
underestimated.

Yours, Rich Engel
Director of Marketing and Public Relations

reply from Aug 2007

Dear Pittsburgh Filmmakers,

two years ago we asked you to think over your cooperation with the chemical corporation Bayer (see our Open Letter).

In a Legacy Challenge Commitment to the Rachel Carson Homestead the company now stated: "Since 1990, Bayer has cut direct greenhouse gas emissions worldwide by more than 70%. (...) Future environmental advances will spring from the bright young minds of budding scientists and engineers. Bayer sponsors the C.A.U.S.E Challenge Film Festival in partnership with SciTech Spectacular and Pittsburgh Filmmakers. The environmental documentary competition invites high school students to write, produce and edit a five-minutes or less video or film on the theme, Mutual Impact: The Environment and You."

This commitment confirms the fear expressed in our letter to your group two years ago ("Bayer has been using these partnerships to deflect criticism by watchdog groups or the media and to use the good image of their partners to present a corporate humanitarian image"). Bayer´s claim that the company reduced CO2 emissions is a deception. The decline in BAYER´s emissions exists for the most part on paper only. The reduction resulted mainly from the outsourcing of BAYER´s energy supply and from sales of two daughter companies (for more information see: http://www.cbgnetwork.org/1408.html).

Bayer misuses the funding of the C.A.U.S.E. Film Festival (which itself is meaningful) to “greenwash” their corporate image. In our opinion the integrity of the Pittsburgh Filmmakers is damaged when quoted in one breath with such misleading claims. We hope you will think over this relationship once more.

We would gladly provide further information on Bayer´s PR activities.

With Regards, Philipp Mimkes

background:

03 October 2005, Beaver County Times Allegheny Times

Environmental film contest

PITTSBURGH - Bayer Corp. and Pittsburgh Filmmakers are joining forces for an environmental video and film competition and festival that began Friday.

As part of the CAUSE Challenge, students from across the region will present videos and films that are up to five minutes long and explore the theme "Mutual Impact: The Environment and You."

They'll compete for a variety of prizes, including $1,000, a digital video camera and a personalized director's chair for the grand prize.

The CAUSE Challenge is part of the 10-day SciTech Spectacular that began Friday and lasts through Oct. 9 at the Carnegie Science Center and other locations around the city.