Press Release, March 26, 2008
Coalition against BAYER Dangers (Germany)
Countermotions to Bayer´s Annual Stockholders´ Meeting
The German group Coalition against BAYER Dangers introduced countermotions to Bayer´s Annual Stockholders´ Meeting. The Coalition will discuss the proposals within the meeting in Cologne on April 25. Main topics will be the marketing of Trasylol, the construction of waste incinerators and coal plants on Bayer´s sites, Bayer´s business activities in Burma and Bayer´s continued participation in illegal price fixing cartels. Several environmental groups announced to participate in the meeting.
Bayer published the countermotions on their website. Please find the full text below:
ANNUAL STOCKHOLDERS´ MEETING ON APRIL 25, 2008
Counter motion to Item 2: the actions of the Board of Management are not ratified
Grounds: Bayer again violated the rules of responsible corporate management in the last fiscal year. The Board of Management is responsible for this. A selection of the most recent examples is given below.
Only after intervention by the German Federal Institute for Drugs and Medical Devices (BfArM) did BAYER stop marketing its heart surgery drug, Trasylol in November 2007. Although the risks of Trasylol had been known for a long time, the management stood by the drug to the bitter end. According to physician Dr. Dennis Mangano, halting sales in good time could have saved the lives of at least 22,000 patients. Mangano showed two years ago that Trasylol causes an aboveaverage number of severe side-effects such as kidney damage, heart attacks and strokes. Quite recently, it became known that BAYER had commissioned a study back in the 1970s that showed a risk of kidney damage. However, the results landed in a drawer. At the beginning of the 1980s, BAYER was told of the risks yet again, but continued to market Trasylol regardless of the consequences.
Waste incinerators for steam production are to be built at BAYER's Brunsbuettel and Dormagen plants. In Brunsbuettel alone, over 370,000 tons of waste will go up in smoke every year. The plants are not needed for the disposal of domestic refuse and will, at some time or other, incinerate waste from abroad. The planned filtering technology – a dry process of flue gas purification – is well below the best available technology. The plants would therefore release large quantities of dust, heavy metals, fluorocarbons and CO2 into the atmosphere. The construction of more and more new waste incinerators will inhibit the start-up of an ecologically useful recycling system. In Brunsbuettel alone, objections have been received from more than 3,000 residents.
Together with the firm Trianel, BAYER wants to build a coal-fired power plant in Krefeld-Uerdingen. This would emit 4.4 million tons of CO2, 4,000 tons of sulfur dioxide and 4,000 tons of nitric oxides every year. There are also plans to build coal-fired power plants at BAYER's Antwerp and Brunsbuettel plants. All three power plants are to be fired with imported coal, which means that there will be additional emissions through the transport.
The construction of these climate killers would mean the permanent introduction of environmentally damaging power generating plants over a period of several decades. BAYER is thus nullifying its bold promise of wanting to "set new standards in climate protection".
Last November, BAYER organized a press conference on the subject of climate protection. The fact that this was nothing more than a show is evident from the fact that not a single word was mentioned about the planned coal-fired power plants.
BAYER is one of the few western companies that do business in Burma despite the catastrophic human rights situation there. BAYER has a subsidiary in Rangoon and is planning trials there with hybrid rice. BAYER manager Harald Printz said: " I do not know when the country will open up. But we are basically prepared to do this, if it takes 20 years, it takes 20 years. We are really looking at the long term perspective on this. We believe if we do this year after year, we will have a good position in the market, even if it takes us twenty years."
Economic activity in Burma is impossible without cooperating with the military regime, which means legitimizing and financing the military junta. The statement made by Printz shows that BAYER does not even stop at collaborating with the Burmese dictators over the long term. Particularly against the background that BAYER has, in the past, entered into a number of cooperation agreements with repressive regimes – starting with the close ties with the Third Reich and including collaboration in business with the South African Apartheid regime and military dictatorships in South America – there is no justification for BAYER to do business in Burma.
Countermotion to Item 3: The actions of the members of the Supervisory Board are not ratified
Reasoning: The Supervisory Board does not adequately fulfill its functions of overseeing the work of the Board of Management, and its actions should therefore not be ratified. Below are some examples of an irresponsible corporate policy that is tolerated by the Supervisory Board:
Cartels involving BAYER have yet again been exposed: In January, a report from the World Bank proved that BAYER had fixed prices for pesticides in India as part of an anti-malaria program. Also in January, the European Antitrust Agency imposed fines on BAYER and other pharmaceutical companies after they were found to have excluded competitors in the marketing of OTC products. In January and December, two other cartels became known in the rubber segment, whereupon BAYER paid a fine of 29 million euros. Back in October, the German Antitrust Agency searched BAYER offices because the company had granted pharmacies generous discounts. In return, the pharmacies had been induced to keep to the "recommended" BAYER prices and to desist from any price reductions.
A list of cartels involving BAYER can be found at: www.cbgnetwork.de/2355.html
Through the takeover of Schering, BAYER has become the world's largest supplier of contraceptives and hormones. The former doping firm, Jenapharm, from the former East Germany is now also part of the Group. In advertising campaigns, BAYER is constantly launching new initiatives on the subjects of family planning and sexuality. The company sponsors Internet forums, finances international campaigns such as the "World Contraception Day", commissions surveys and launches initiatives such as Family Planning International.
The reasons for this commitment given on the BAYER homepage sound like statements given by critics of globalization ("fighting worldwide poverty, protecting the environment, making globalization more just"). In fact, however, it seems to be more a case of BAYER trying to establish hormone products throughout the world as a standard contraceptive, because the profits are enormous: The "pill" is BAYER's biggestselling pharmaceutical with annual sales of over one billion euros. Through the profusion of marketing campaigns, the side-effects – some of them severe, like thrombosis, embolism, depression, breast cancer – are being pushed into the background. Millions of women are at risk, most of them unwittingly.
BAYER also wants to establish hormone therapies for men – at vast advertising expense. As possible indications for testosterone treatment, BAYER lists an increase in stomach fat, reduced libido, hair loss and a decrease in bone density – all symptoms that were regarded as normal aging phenomena five years ago. Websites such as www.testosteron.de, which are managed by BAYER's advertising department, promise a "decisive improvement in men's quality of life and health". On the other hand, there are no long-term studies whatsoever on the risks of testosterone treatment. Shorter-time studies, however, came up with an indication that testosterone products encourage prostate cancer and can damage the liver. Physicians warn against intervening in the hormone balance without sufficient medical reason.
Last August, the Agricultural Ministry of the State of North-Rhine Westphalia came across genetically modified rape seed that is not approved in Germany. Despite this, the seed was sown on an area of 1,500 hectares. The contamination is due to a herbicide-resistant product from BAYER CropScience. As in the United States, where conventionally grown rice was contaminated by a herbicideresistant type from BAYER in 2006 and was subsequently distributed on the worldwide market, the contamination of the rape is probably due to field trials carried out many years ago. BAYER refuses to accept liability for the damage.
This case shows once again that genetic engineering in agriculture inevitably leads to contamination of conventional seeds. Despite this, BAYER is pushing into new markets. In Australia, BAYER wants to cultivate genetically modified rape, while the company has also applied for import permits from the EU for genetically manipulated rice and rape.
A campaign organized by the Coalition against BAYER Dangers and other initiatives have resulted in a ban on the incineration of Australian toxic waste in BAYER plants. However, the company refuses to declare all waste imports according to origin and content. BAYER had admitted to incinerating hazardous waste from 300 companies from Germany and abroad even though the facilities had originally only been approved for waste from the BAYER plants. It is unacceptable that such a densely populated country as Germany, which already has a high level of environmental pollution, should become the target for the transport of toxic waste.
Board of Management of the Coalition against BAYER Dangers