April 28, 2002
Activists storm stage at Bayer AG´s AGM to protest over the companies GM crop interests
Seven GM activists from the UK and Holland managed to sneak into Bayer AG´s shareholder meeting in Cologne/Germany on April 26th. Their mission to let the directors, employees and shareholders of Bayer know that Bayer´s new venture into GM crops will not go unopposed.
Wearing suits and using a wheel chair as a Trojan Horse the activists managed to evade heavy security (including x-ray machines and metal detectors) and enter the main meeting hall. D-locks and Hand-cuffs had to be abandoned in the foyer when it became obvious how tight security was. At 10:30 am after the introductory speeches, one person jumped on to the stage and began addressing the audience over the PA. Simultaneously 2 activists climbed the side of the stage, managing to reach a height of about 30 feet and staying aloft for 3-4 minutes shouting anti-GM slogans before being removed by security. Other activists miraculously leapt out of a wheel chair and stormed the stage and attempted to hang a banner reading "Bayer raus aus dem Gen-tech Anbau" ("Bayer get out of GM crops") before being foiled by plain clothes security hidden in the audience. Other activists occupied the speaking podium grabbing the microphone and ranting at the board in German, blowing whistles and generally causing chaos.
All seven activists were eventually removed from the 3,000 capacity venue by heavy handed private security, sustaining cuts and bruises and were handed over to the police. They were arrested and held for an hour before being released without charge having been banned from the area of the conference centre. In a bizarre twist to the story, before being driven away by Police all the activists (as Bayer shareholders themselves for the day) were given the chance to vote on a number of share holder resolutions by Bayer representatives apparently anxious that they should not be denied their voting rights.
Bayer following their acquisition of Aventis CropScience which is due to be completed within the next week will own over 85% of the GM field trials in the UK and will be the company doing most to push for the commercial growing of GM crops in Europe.