July 27, 2004
Press Release by the Coalition against BAYER-dangers

A fig-leaf for the wicked

Contract between BAYER and UN Environmental Programme (UNEP)

Recently BAYER corporation signed a cooperation-contract with the UN`s environmental agency UNEP. Over a period of 3 years BAYER is going to provide an annual amount of one million Euro for UNEPĀ“s "Youth & Environment" programme. The focal-point of this cooperation will be the Asia-Pacific region.

Philipp Mimkes of the Coalition against BAYER-dangers (Germany) comments: "BAYER, like any multi-national company, has by no means anything one could call a "green conscience", but is merely interested in profits. To this day this corporation has fought, through its lobbyists, against any positive agreement on environmental issues, be it the Kyoto Protocol for the protection of the climate or the new EU law on chemicals. It`s a real set-back for efforts to assure environmental protection if corporations like BAYER are allowed to associate themselves with the UN." Pointing out that BAYER produces a great number of highly dangerous substances like pesticides, plasticisers, Bisphenol A and phosgene, Mimkes claims: "To BAYER, supporting the UNEP is nothing more than a sheer publicity campaign. There is no easier and more informal way of achieving a positive company image".

Four years ago BAYER was also one of the signatories of the UN Global Compact, in which more than 100 companies acknowledged the importance of environmental protection, worker safety and human rights. But with the Global Compact there were also no criteria laid down by the UNO: Any company, from firms producing nuclear power plants to oil corporations, were eligible to participate. After a company has signed the Compact there are no follow-up reviews whatsoever, and all agreements are non-binding.

"Especially paradoxical", Philipp Mimkes further points out, "is the fact that in this cooperation between BAYER and UNEP the focal-point is on Asia". BAYER is working intensively on the approval of genetically modified rice. As rice is the staple food for 2.5 billion people, the introduction of these modified types would have dramatic consequences: Millions of farmers who by now are producing their own seeds by exchange and self-cultivation would become dependent on multi-national corporations. The concentration-process, formerly witnessed during the "green revolution", would inevitably lead to the loss of livelihoods for millions of farmers and force them to migrate to the slums surrounding the big cities.

BAYER widely uses its involvement with the UN to bolster its integrity, for example on the company`s homepage and in numerous advertising brochures. Even Bayer's annual report contains a compliment by Kofi Annan, with a picture and the UN logo. Because of examples like this, Friends Of The Earth is complaining about the private economy`s insidious takeover of the United Nations and fears that voluntary agreements might hinder the ratification of binding rules.