Press Release, March 29, 2007
Coalition against BAYER dangers (Germany)
Countermotions Introduced to Bayer´s Annual Stockholders´ Meeting
The Coalition against BAYER Dangers, based in Duesseldorf/Germany, today introduced countermotions to Bayer´s Annual Stockholders´ Meeting. The protest group will discuss the proposals within the meeting that takes place in Cologne on April 27.
Main topics in the discussion will be: incineration of toxic waste in Bayer´s plants, the growing number of accidents, Bayer´s CO2 emissions and sales of highly hazardous pesticides. Several environmental groups announced to participate in the stockholders´ meeting.
Bayer published the countermotions on their website. Please find the full text below:
ANNUAL STOCKHOLDERS´ MEETING ON APRIL 27, 2007
We hereby announce that we dissent to the proposals of the Board of Management and the Supervisory Board with respect to items 2, 3, and 4 of the agenda and will urge the other stockholders to vote for the following counter motions.
Counter motion to Item 2: the actions of the Board of Management are not ratified
Grounds: The BAYER Group last year massively violated the rules of appropriate corporate governance in 2006. The Board of Management holds responsibility for this.
The following is a selection of current problem areas. Background information can be found on the homepage of Coalition against BAYER Dangers at http://www.CBGnetwork.de
Additional information can be requested at CBGnetwork(at)aol.com
On All Saints Day, BAYER placed a wreath at the grave of the former Supervisory Board Chairman Fritz ter Meer. During the Second World War, Fritz ter Meer was responsible for the construction of IG Farbens Auschwitz production site, at which about 30,000 forced laborers died. At the Nuremberg Trials, Fritz ter Meer was sentenced to seven years in prison for the exploitation of slave laborers and plunder. During the hearings he stated that the forced laborers had not been subjected to particular suffering, as they would have been killed regardless. The continued payment of tribute by BAYER AG to a convicted war criminal is intolerable.
Furthermore, BAYER still refuses to present meaningful climate statistics. Unlike BASF, BAYER does not publish information on the CO2 emissions of its electricity and steam suppliers. The reduction in greenhouse gas emissions claimed by BAYER is partly based simply on the divestment of its power supply activities – a balance-sheet trick that does not help the climate. Whats more, at its Krefeld-Uerdingen site BAYER plans to operate a black coal power plant designed by Trianel that on its own would result in more than 4 million metric tons of CO2 emissions per year. This decision would establish the climate-damaging production of electricity for decades.
Serious industrial accidents frequently occur at BAYER. The accident risks are largely of the companys own making: the workforce has been stretched too thin for a number of years, and the steadily increasing workload and cost-containment measures in safety-relevant departments are responsible for many accidents.
- For example, a major explosion took place in the TDI production unit at BAYERs Baytown site in September, resulting in the discharge not just of carcinogenic chemicals, but also of the toxic gas ammonia. 22 employees had to be treated in a hospital and the plant was closed down for three months. A major explosion followed by a fire had previously occurred at Baytown in 2004. BAYERs TDI production has been the subject of criticism for a long time, as large amounts of the toxic gas phosgene are used in this process. TDI can also be produced without phosgene. However, BAYER has not developed suitable processes to the production stage. This places employees and residents at a heightened risk.
- On January 16, 2007, a production plant for pesticides exploded at BAYERs site in Belford Roxo, Brazil, injuring three employees. The explosion could be heard within a radius of five kilometers, and production of the pesticide Tamaron had to be temporarily suspended.
- On November 5, a deflagration resulting in a fire took place at the carbon monoxide plant in Krefeld-Uerdingen. This production facility also had to be shut down for several weeks.
- On the premises of the BAYER Chemical Park in Dormagen, several explosions took place on July 3 in a reactor for the production of polyethylene. Eight employees were injured.
- On June 27, there was a hydrogen fluoride leak at BAYERs Leverkusen site. 11 employees had to be taken to the hospital.
The Coalition against BAYER Dangers has published on its homepage a timeline of industrial accidents in which 70 accidents at BAYER sites since 1994 are documented. The complete list can be found at http://www.CBGnetwork.de/476.html
The BAYER Group plans to break up Bayer Industry Services (BIS), in the process divesting itself of major business activities and thus spinning off or eliminating 3,000 jobs. Neither insufficient capacity utilization nor financial losses are forcing the company to make these cuts. On the contrary, the services offered by BIS are needed by the BAYER production sites, and the BAYER Group as a whole is very profitable. In connection with BAYERs reorganization into a holding structure, the company had placed within BIS all operations that were not showing a profit in order to reduce the strain on the other parts of the company and facilitate carve-outs at a later date. It is not acceptable for the company to shirk its responsibility toward its employees in such a way.
Last year, a study by the physician Dennis Mangano came to the conclusion that use of the BAYER drug product Trasylol significantly increases the risk of myocardial infarction, stroke and kidney failure.
It has now been revealed that BAYER intentionally withheld negative study results for Trasylol from the U.S. drug authority FDA. On September 21, 2006, an FDA committee convened to discuss Dr. Manganos results. On this date the company had in its possession new results indicating that patients who have been treated with Trasylol have an increased risk of death, heart failure and stroke. The members of the panel were not informed of these results, however. The FDA was not made aware of the study until one of its authors notified the authorities.
The members of the FDA committee have sharply criticized this procedure. Said Dr. Michael Lincoff: “I am astounded that the BAYER representatives did not notify us that such a study had taken place. We spent a whole day discussing with them how we need current studies. It is inconceivable that the representatives of BAYER were not aware of the studys existence or its relevance for the committee. It is a bad joke when BAYER spokespeople try to make the public believe that they inadvertently kept the results secret. Such excuses cannot be accepted in matters of life and death.
Counter motion to Item 3: the actions of the Supervisory Board are not ratified
Grounds: The Supervisory Board is insufficiently performing its oversight function, and its actions thus should not be ratified. The following examples illustrate an environmentally unfriendly corporate policy supported by the Supervisory Board.
According to an evaluation by Swedish authorities that was accepted by the European Food Safety Authority, the herbicide glufosinate poses a risk to consumers, users and nature. Sweden recommends that glufosinate be banned. Nearly all the genetically modified plants in BAYERs product range are resistant to glufosinate. The genetic manipulation of plants is not aimed at fighting hunger, as BAYER repeatedly claims, but rather at the safeguarding of herbicide sales. The continued sale of glufosinate, however, can no longer be justified for ecological reasons.
BAYER has several types of rice in its product range that are resistant to glufosinate. The rice type LL 601 was present in the food chain for many years despite not being authorized for consumption anywhere in the world. The European Union and Japan imposed a ban on imports, and numerous rice growers in the United States sued the company. If any further proof was needed of the uncontrollable nature of genetic engineering, BAYER has thereby provided it.
Although it remains unclear how the contamination occurred, however, BAYER still maintains an application for authorization to import a similar type of rice (LL 61). Marketing authorization in Europe for genetically modified rice would enable BAYER and other biotech companies to promote the cultivation of such rice, particularly in developing countries. This would inevitably lead to the genetic contamination of existing rice crops, impair biodiversity and thus endanger the main food source of the third world.
BAYER is attempting to gain marketing authorization in Brazil for genetically modified corn. Glufosinate-resistant corn is not cultivated in any E.U. country. BAYER itself withdrew this corn type from the market in the United Kingdom, as its cultivation would not be profitable if all measures were to be undertaken to protect genetic engineering-free agriculture from contamination. Studies show that fields of genetically modified corn are more heavily sprayed with pesticides over the long term than fields of conventional corn. This is not just a problem for the environment, as humans too suffer from the massive use of glufosinate.
In many parts of the world, BAYER continues to sell pesticides from the WHO hazard class 1a (extremely hazardous) and 1b (highly hazardous), including thiodicarb, parathion-methyl, fenamiphos, ethroprop, azinphos-methyl and methamidiphos. Particularly in conditions of poverty, the risk-free use of such pesticides is not possible. BAYER announced more than ten years ago that it would remove from the market all pesticides from hazard class 1, a promise that is being continually broken. The company thus holds responsibility for the poisoning of thousands of agricultural laborers each year.
The hormonal effect of bisphenol A has been known for decades. Yet despite this, BAYER – the biggest German producer of this substance – has played down the risks and used its political influence to prevent a ban on risky applications, such as the products use in babies bottles or the coatings of tin cans.
On Valentines Day, BAYER – which produces Levitra – launched a sanctimonious advertising campaign for the erectile drug. Using the slogan “Alarm in German Bedrooms, the campaign states that “90 percent of all men would take an erectile dysfunction drug if their partner asked them to. The accompanying website features not just the peace initiative “Global Orgasm – Peace through Global Ecstasy, but also the photo model Jerry Hall as an ambassador for the product.
Apart from the unintentionally humorous and sexist aspects of the campaign, this is an example of irresponsible advertising for products with significant side effects. Men are encouraged to take erectile dysfunction drugs despite the fact that non-medicinal treatment methods are available in many cases. The risks are not mentioned anywhere. By stating that 90 percent of all men would not refuse treatment if their wives so desired, the campaign aims to exploit healthy individuals as a target group.
This initiative is the latest in a series of dubious advertising measures for Levitra. In Brazil, BAYER last summer distributed erectile dysfunction pills to soccer fans – without any warning about side effects. In the United States, a television commercial for Levitra was banned due to misleading statements and the lack of information about possible risks. And in Australia, BAYER was called on by Medicines Australia, the pharmaceutical industry association, to discontinue a campaign for Levitra.
Counter motion to Item 3: we propose to elect Axel Koehler-Schnura, Business Management Graduate, Duesseldorf, to the Supervisory Board as a stockholders representative.
Grounds: Axel Koehler-Schnura has worked with others since 1978 to establish an international network for the democratic oversight of the BAYER Group. He is the founder of Coalition against BAYER Dangers and has made public numerous violations by the company against human rights and environmental protection regulations. He is thus predestined for thorough oversight, independent of profit interest, of the Board of Management of BAYER AG.
Board of Management of Coalition against BAYER Dangers