Various articles, July 1998

Factory closing in Elkhart, Indiana

The USA is BAYER's largest foreign market and the most important global production location for BAYER after Germany. 24,000 employees in America alone ensure an annual turnover of 16 billion German Marks. The low degree of organization among the American employees is especially pleasing to company heads. There are labor unions in only six of the total 52 factories, which result in lower wages and less resistance to dismissals.

BAYER announced the sale of its citric acid branch to the British company TATE&LYLE on May 5th. Since TATE&LYLE does not want to buy all the factories, the company will be closing the plant in Elkhart, Indiana. 200 jobs will be liquidated in the next few months, and another 80 will disappear next year. Early retirement packages will be offered to a few employees, but releases will be unavoidable, according to factory manager Michael Weaber. The other production centers in Elkhart are also under pressure, since there is an excess capacity for consumer products like ALKA-SELZER, which is produced in Elkhart. Weaber apparently assured for further headlines when he admitted that the excess capacities are a problem. Another non-prescription drug manufacturing plant was closed two years ago in Mississippi.

The Elkhart factory, with 2,200 employees, was one of the few locations in the US where the employees had a labor union. Other American regions are advertising for companies who are willing to relocate or move to their city with promises like "guaranteed union-free".

Pesticide Dump in Pakistan Sickens Residents

By Ahmar Mustikhan (Environmental News Service)

A toxic dump and spill in a valley in Pakistan's North West Frontier Province is posing a serious health hazard for local villagers. Although the spill occurred three years ago, the people are suffering intestinal, eye and lung diseases, especially severe among the children.

About 250 drums of expired pesticides loaded on four trucks were being secretly transported from provincial capital Peshawar to Khawara valley in Nowshera on the orders of the then minister for health and environment. The operation was authorised by the director-general of the provincial Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). One of the four trucks overturned a few kilometres from the destination, and although all signs of the accident were cleared before daylight, what could not be hidden by EPA officials was the stench that lingered on as the toxic waste seeped into the soil.

The pesticides were imported for free distribution among farmers over 20 years ago under the so-called Green Revolution programme, but later the government decided to sell it to the farmers. Since the price was higher than the selling price in the open market, the pesticides - Dimethoate, Gusathion and Keltene - remained at a storehouse of the Department of Plant Protection in Peshawar.

Trouble followed since the storehouse was in a thickly populated area where residents complained of foul smell, strange taste in water and recurring headaches. To tackle the problem, the EPA's German-funded Urban Industrial Environment Project set up a pilot plan called the safe disposal of outdate pesticides (SDOP). The SDOP officials said they were initially looking for safe disposal of 50 tonnes of Gusathion, a product of Bayer AG, but to their amazement they disovered that in addition there were 50 tonnes of Dimethoate and four tonnes of Keltene in the Peshawar storehouse.

The ideal method to dispose of such chemicals is through high temperature incineration at 2000 degree Celsius. But Pakistan does not have this type of facility. Bayer AG had agreed to incinerate the Gusathion and Keltene and bear the expenses while the transportation cost would be borne by GTZ, a German Agency for technical cooperation. A nod is still awaited from Agriment Milano, producers of Dimethoate, to follow Bayer AG's example. Meanwhile, the EPA cannot afford the cost of incineration - between US$1,000 and $2,000 per tonne.

According to a study by World Environmental Centre, around 5,000 tonnes of expired pesticides are lying dumped at 1,900 ware houses across Pakistan. The United Nations Food & Agriculture Organizations estimates there are more than 100,000 tonnes of obsolete pesticide stocks in developing countries.

BAYER under Pressure

It has previously been common policy of German companies to not recognize individual recompensation claims of former forced labor workers from concentration camps. Instead, the federal government was supposed to atone for the past with payments for the "soiled" profits of German companies. VW has now broken ranks from this "alliance of denial" and has announced that it is prepared to accept the claims. This has caused increased political pressure on the other companies. However, while DAIMLER, CONTINENTAL and HOECHST can at least show the press donations to individuals or money transfers to the "Jewish Conference on Claims against Germany", BAYER is digging in their heels. They claim they are not the legal successors of IG FARBEN and therefore do not feel that they need to make recompensation payments to former forced labor workers, insists a speaker for the company.

One in six Americans at risk from Chemical accident exposure

One in six Americans is at risk of being harmed by a severe chemical accident, according to a report released by the American PIRG (Public Information Research Group). The report ,Too close to home: chemical accident rists in the US" found that more than 41 million Americans live ,within range of a toxic cloud that could result from a chemical accident at a facility located in their home zip code."

Companies creating the largest vulnerable zones include BAYER Corporation as well as 3M, DuPont, Monsanto and Union Carbide.
“This report should be a call to action," said Hillel Gray from the National Environmental Law Center (NELC). ,The time has come for companies in this country to stop downplaying toxic risks and start giving complete information about potential accidents. The public has a right to know what dangers exist and what specific prevention actions are underway."
(quoted after Corporate Crime Reporter number 30)

Plasma Victims in Taiwan

BAYER is paying 10 Taiwanese citizens, who were infected with the HIV virus via BAYER blood products, a total of $ 60,000 each. 43 other victims turned down the offer with the claim that BAYER had paid higher amounts in other countries. BAYER does not view the payments as compensation or an admission of guilt, but rather as voluntary "humanitarian aid".

BAYER the Climate Killer

The chemical industry is the largest electricity consumers of all the branches of industry. In Germany, they needed a total of 60 trillion- kilowatt hours of energy in 1997. In doing this, they contributed considerably to the jeopardization of the global climate, since large amounts of carbon dioxide are released when electricity is produced. Emissions from BAYER's own power plants were 9.6 million tons alone. Since BAYER also obtains power from other companies, the total CO2 emissions are considerably higher.

60 People Die Due to ASPIRIN

5,000 people were admitted into the British hospitals last year after taking ASPIRIN. However, help for 60 came too late, and they died.
The risks and side effects of paracetamol are even more alarming. 30,000-40,000 people were admitted into hospitals, 100-150 died.
The English health authorities also added that British supermarkets could only sell packets of 24 tablets.

Scandalous Price Policies

A HEALTH ACTION INTERNATIONAL investigation in cooperation with the BUKO-PHARMA-KAMPAGNE (BUKO-PHARMA CAMPAIGN) showed that the pharmaceuticals industry demand higher prices for their medications in poorer countries than in industrial countries. This practice has catastrophic effects on the health care of the country's population. For example, BAYER's cardiac medication ADALAT costs $ 36 in Canada, $ 10 in Greece, $ 23 in Germany, $ 192 in Chile, $ 11 in Mexico, $ 32 in Tanzania and $ 57 in Hong Kong.

No Malaria Research

The fatal repercussions of allowing the pharmaceuticals industry to develop new medications by themselves can be seen in the case of malaria. One million people a year die from this disease - especially in Africa, but BAYER & Co. is not interested in tropical illness research due to its rather poor profit prospects. BAYER disbanded their own research department for tropical medicine at the end of the 1980s due to the low profits!

An initiative of the World Health Organization (WHO) has now also failed to found a type of joint venture between pharmaceutical companies, developmental aid organizations and representatives from the Third World in order to hurry along research. Some manufacturers demanded a market guarantee and the international association of pharmaceutical manufacturers complained that the costs for the project were too high.