BAYER's Managing Board: Bitter Faces
BAYER's General Meeting has been a place of critical argument for years about the business activities - harmful to both environment and man - of the multi-national German chemistry group.
Environmentalists, unionists, residents and, above all, BAYER's victims seized the chance offered by an invitation from the COORDINATION to confront the responsible persons at BAYER and the shareholders with the dirty other side of their profits and turnovers. Furthermore they personally announced their demands for environment protection, human rights and health. BAYER's Managing Board showed bitter faces because the isolation of the critics which they had hoped for did not take place. For the first time not only several hundred small shareholders supported the critics, but also a principal shareholder directed his 25.000 shares against Managing and Supervisory Board, thus enabling the COORDINATION to influence the agenda. Suddenly subjects like abandoning genetic engineering, the compensation of former IG-FARBEN slave-workers, a fund for victims of BAYER products or BAYER production, adequate wages in all countries and similar subjects counterproductive to dividends, image and market rate appeared formally on the agenda. BAYER's Managing Board tried to avert the unavoidable by defaming the oppositional applications as "unfounded". But things did not work out the way they had planned, e.g. when Dr. Ute Braun, lady president of the German Haemophiliac Society, delineated objectively that already half of the world-wide 22.000 haemophiliacs deadly contaminated by BAYER's and other medicaments have died. Many of the audience were enraged by the arrogance with which BAYER's Chairman of the Board refused to pay compensation to the victims, stating that he could not detect any culpable conduct from BAYER's side. More and more the Managing Board was forced on to the defensive: Jos' Tolentiono from El Salvador e.g. spoke about misery and death through pesticides which are forbidden in the the industrialized countries but are still sold by BAYER in his country. Melanie Willms/COORDINATION AGAINST BAYER DANGERS and Gregor Bornes/ GenEthical Network described how BAYER acquires more and more patents for life. Siebo Janssen/amnesty international explained how Bayer comes to terms with regimes that trample on human rights, e.g. in Indonesia. Uwe Friedrich and Marc Pletzer, both COORDINATION AGAINST BAYER
DANGERS, described the ordeals of the countless victims of BAYER's wood preservatives and pyrethroides. Dr. Joachim Dullin explained the dangers for man and environment arising from BAYER's refusal to abandon chlorine chemistry. The voting results were a "historical victory for the COORDINATION", as Melanie Willms/COORDINATION put it: up to 458.000 votes, which is equivalent to a capital of a quoted value of more than 200 million German marks, supported the items on the agenda proposed by the COORDINATION. Up to 240.000 votes abstained from voting, thus refusing solidarity with the Managing Board.
Boom in China: Schneider opens new plant
A hint concerning the violation of human rights only would have disturbed business. So BAYER's President Manfred Shneider did without as he declared in March 1996, when laying the foundation stone for a new joint venture in Peking, that BAYER's turnover in China would double within the next ten years to 1.5 bilion German marks. In 1996 alone the turnover is expected to rise by 20 to 25%. The COORDINATION demands to stop all business relations with countries trampling on human rights.
BAYER pesticides again on the advance
As late as the 1980ies BAYER was the greatest producer of pesticides world-wide. By 1994 the BAYER group had fallen back to the sixth place. In the record year 1995 BAYER achieved an increase in sales of 21.7% in the pesticide sector, thus making 3.3 billion German marks and becoming number three of the world market. The biggest increase was achieved in the USA, Latin America and Asia. Germany is the biggest exporter of pesticides on the world market.
BAYER's chrome dirt: Back to Africa
From 1998 on BAYER will transfer the production of chrome chemicals to South Africa. The chrome production in Leverkusen will be shut down, which will affect 300 workers. Together with the South African company SENTRACHEM, BAYER will build one of the world's largest factories for chrome chemicals. The main reasons why BAYER will transfer its chrome production to South Africa are cheap labour force and slack safety provisions for workers. In 1991 the COORDINATION AGAINST BAYER DANGERS
revealed that many workers of BAYER's South African subsidiary CHROME CHEMICAL have died of lung cancer
and suffer from perforations of the nasal septum. Until now BAYER has not payed any compensation to the affected workers.
40% more accidents
According to statements of the German Association of the Chemical Industry (Verband der Chemischen Industrie - VCI) the number of accidents in the chemical industry has risen by 40%. The VCI attributes his development to an increased sensitivity among the member firms. It can only be guessed what is meant by this statement, probably that in the past it was easier to cover up accidents.
BAYER payed bribe-money
According to an announcement of the Tokyo District Public Prosecutors office, in the eighties BAYER and four other companies payed 600.000 German marks bribe-money in order to forestall the sale of treated blood products. The Public Prosecutors office is investigating whether Takeshi Abe, a haemophiliac expert and then head of the government's AIDS research team, should be charged with murder or criminal negligence resulting in death. After being informed by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control in 1983 that unheated blood products were the probable cause of AIDS in haemophiliacs, the Japanese Health and Welfare Ministry approved the use of heated products and recommended emergency imports of treated blood products. One week later Prof. Abe undermined this decision. After payments of the companies BAYER, BAXTER, GREEN CROSS and NIHONZOKI he pressured other members of the government's AIDS research team to agree to the continued use of the untreated blood products. At the same time Prof. Abe presided over a committee which was supposed to examine the usefulness of heating techniques. The committee came to the result that a governmental prohibition was not necessary, which lead to a repeal of the decree. In addition a test for detecting risk donors ("Core-Test") was not introduced. BAYER and Prof. Abe played a major role in this million dollar poker which till today has cost the lives of more than 400 people alone in Japan. The pharmaceutical industry had bought the decisive key figures in order to sell their "valuable" deadly remainders anyhow.