January 13th, 2003
Coalition against BAYER-dangers

UN Global Compact: Letter to Secretary General Kofi Annan

Secretary General Mr. Kofi Annan
United Nations S-378
New York, New York 10017, USA

Global Compact / Bayer AG

Dear Secretary General,
we are writing to you to support a letter which the people from the village of Tauccamarca, Peru, wrote to you on the occasion of the World Summit for Sustainable Development. We agree on their appeal to take action on behalf of the United Nations to ask companies like Bayer to withdraw their most toxic pesticides from the market. Furthermore we also support their call to withdraw the support of the UN Global Compact from Bayer and all other chemical companies that continue to sell these deadly products in regions of the world where they cannot be used safely.

The village, which is located high in the Andean mountains, had to suffer from a major accident in October 1999. Twenty-four children were poisoned and killed after they ate a school breakfast of powdered milk substitute that had been contaminated with methyl parathion, a pesticide made by the multi-national company Bayer. Eighteen more children were also poisoned but fortunately survived. Still the early medical tests have shown that several of these children will suffer significant long-term health and developmental consequences.

A Commission of the Peruvian Congress found the company Bayer civilly responsible for the death of the children, and also found evidence of criminal responsibility.

With regard to the work the Pesticide Action Network and the Coalition against BAYER-dangers have done for 20 years now, we gained the unpleasant certainty that the incidence is not an individual case. In contrast, it represents a major problem of pesticide use in regions of the world where farmers and farm workers as well as their families do not have access to or monetary funds for safety equipment, are illiterate and/ or are not aware of the necessary precautions that should be taken to avoid harm to health and the environment.

We add to this letter an analysis of the projects that the company Bayer submitted to the Global Compact office. This analysis shows that Bayer´s use of the Global Compact is a classic case of "bluewash " - using the good image of the United Nations to present a corporate humanitarian image without a commitment to changing real-world behavior.

We are therefore writing to you today to express our concern that the United Nations sponsored programme Global Compact has members such as Bayer, whose policies do not comply with the Compact's principles on human rights and the environment and thereby are harmful to the credibility of such an United Nations programme.

We thank you for your attention to this important matter and look forward to your response.

Sincerely yours,

Philipp Mimkes
Secretary Coalition against BAYER-dangers
Postfach 15 04 18
40081 Duesseldorf