Press Release, April 11, 2013
Coalition against BAYER Dangers (Germany)
BAYER Shareholder Meeting on April 26 in Cologne:
Coalition introduces Countermotions
Hazardous drugs, pesticides, GM rice and election campaign donations under fire
The Coalition against BAYER Dangers has introduced countermotions to BAYER´s Annual Shareholder Meeting on April 26. Environmental and social justice organizations announced to discuss the proposals within the meeting in Cologne. About 4,000 shareholders are expected to attend.
Beekeepers from all over Germany will conduct a rally at the entrance of the Cologne Fair to protest against BAYER´s bee-killing pesticides clothianidin and imidacloprid. Additional topics of the protests will be side effects of the birth control pill Yaz, coal imports from Colombia and the contamination of conventional rice by genetically modified strains.
The Coalition against Bayer-Dangers has been monitoring BAYER for more than 30 years. The company has published the countermotions on their website.
Countermotion: The actions of the members of the Board of Management are not ratified
The BAYER Group is responsible for a wide variety of ecological and social problems. The Board of Management bears the responsibility for these, so its actions should not be ratified. A selection of current problems is outlined below.
Lipobay / Baycol
During the past fiscal year, BAYER has been sentenced to pay damages to Lipobay victims in several cases, for example, in Argentina and Italy. The courts established clear guilt on the part of the Group. Internal documents show that BAYER's management was aware of the serious health risk for patients and even ignored warnings from within the company.
The court rulings are a great source of satisfaction for victims around the world. Nevertheless, Bayer refuses to accept its guilt and pay fair compensation to all those affected.
Blood clotting products
Last year, hemophilia patient Todd Smith died at the age of 50. In the 1980s, he was infected with HIV and Hepatitis C as a result of blood products from BAYER. His infections could have been avoided if the Group had applied the tests and inactivation processes available at the time.
At that time, BAYER was the world market leader in blood products. Following the ban on untreated blood products in the United States and Europe, the company exported the remaining lots to Latin America and Asia, where further infections occurred. BAYER still refuses to finance a permanent foundation that would enable those affected to live in dignity. Instead, the costs have to be borne by the public.
The three largest pesticide producers BASF, BAYER and SYNGENTA, which control almost half of the world pesticide market, each market more than fifty highly dangerous active ingredients, which cause, for example, cancer, nerve damage and sterility, damage the hormone system or could jeopardize biodiversity. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates the number of pesticide poisonings at between 3 and 25 million a year. Around 99 percent of all pesticide poisonings occur in southern countries.
German industry sources 80 percent of its coal from abroad. However, international coal trading takes place largely outside the public domain. In the debate about Germanys "new energy policy" questions about working conditions in the coal mining industry and the ecological follow-on costs are rare.
BAYER, too, imports large quantities of coal, for example, hard coal from Colombia and coking coal from China (so far, BAYER has not provided an exact breakdown). BAYERs subsidiary CURRENTA is a member of the German Coal Importers Association. The extensive combustion of coal is largely responsible for BAYERs high greenhouse gas emissions – over 8 million tonnes of CO2 a year.
Around 10.5 million tonnes of coal were shipped to Germany from Colombia alone in 2012. Nearly five million hectares have been released for mining in this South American country within a decade.
Working conditions in Colombian mines are appalling, the risk of accidents is high. According to official statistics, there were about 500 fatalities caused by pit gas explosions between 2004 and 2010. Many miners suffer from silicosis and other occupational diseases.
Mining companies use all possible means to prevent the establishment of labor unions. Paramilitary organizations have repeatedly been used for repression. Several union members have been killed.
Neither miners nor the local population benefit from the high export revenues. Thousands of Colombians have lost their source of livelihood. The interests of the indigenous population and smallscale farmers, in particular, are betrayed. Even Colombias former Environment Minister Manuel Rodríguez criticizes the fact that his country "prostitutes itself with inadequate ecological and social regulations.
Through coal imports from countries with inadequate ecological and social standards, BAYER shares responsibility for the serious problems that arise there.
Election campaign donations
The BAYER Group has traditionally been among the most important foreign donors to U.S. election campaigns. Last year, BAYERs Political Action Committee was the biggest German contributor to the Republican Party, with donations totalling USD 261,000. In the preceding mid-term elections, BAYER selectively sponsored candidates who deny climate change and block effective climate legislation. BAYER was also one of the supporters of the Heartland Institute, which denies climate change and played a key role in the rise of the reactionary "Tea Party".
BAYERs donations help block progress in environmental and consumer protection. The common good is overridden by the special interests of major corporations. The noble ideal of "one man, one vote" expressed in the U.S. Constitution is increasingly mutating into "one dollar, one vote" as a result of the dependence on corporations.
For many years, Bayer 04 Leverkusen was sponsored by the company TelDaFax, which later was involved in bankruptcy proceedings on an unprecedented scale. Bayer 04 continued to receive millions even after its managers became aware that TelDaFax was in trouble. By contrast, the roughly 700,000 people affected were left empty-handed.
Last summer Bayer 04 concluded a new sponsoring agreement - with the betting company Betfair. The German Soccer Association (DFB) and German soccer clubs are supposed to take systematic action to prevent bet manipulation, racketeering and bribery. Instead, Bayer 04 decided to take money from a betting company. The dubious nature of the agreement is shown by the fact that it was cancelled only a few months later.
Antibiotics for animals
The German government has, for the first time, published details of the quantities of antibiotics administered to animals in Germany. The figures show that seven times more antibiotics are used in intensive livestock farming than in human medicine. This fosters the development of resistance to pathogens. More and more people are failing to respond to antibiotics, and this often puts lives at risk.
In particular, the use of third and fourth generation active ingredients should be rejected because they are very important as reserve antibiotics for humans. The BAYER Group markets such a reserve antibiotic from the class of fluoroquinolones as Baytril to fatten animals. Last year, eight tonnes of fluoroquinolones were administered to livestock in Germany. BAYER is therefore partially responsible for the increasing incidence of resistant pathogens.