Bayer in Asia

August 28, 2006 German Foreign Policy

Deadly Poison

(LEVERKUSEN/NEW DELHI/SHANGHAI, Own report) - The Bayer Corporation of Germany is pushing its expansion into Asia with the sales of highly dangerous pesticides and is thereby accepting that the regional rural population could be seriously contaminated. As Malaysian specialists have been criticizing, Bayer is offering to India and other Asian states pesticides that the World Health Organization (WHO) classifies as Class I ("extremely hazardous"/"highly hazardous"), even though the export and use of these chemicals run contrary to the norms of the United Nations' (FAO Code of Conduct) and can be deadly to humans. In India, Bayer, one of the largest German chemistry enterprises, is the agrochemical market leader. Bayer considers India to be one of the most promising markets in the Asia-Pacific region, where the company seeks to appreciably increase its business volume. Bayer achieves already approximately 16 percent of its worldwide total revenue and makes its largest foreign investments in the region.

Hazardous Class I
According to information furnished by the Centre for Sustainable Agriculture (India), the Coordination against Bayer Dangers (Germany) and the Pesticide Action Network Asia and the Pacific (Malaysia), despite many years of protests, Bayer continues to market extremely poisonous pesticides in Asia.(1) This refers also to products, which the WHO has classified "extremely" or "highly hazardous," chemicals that have long since been removed from circulation in Europe and the United States. Since some time, the Centre for Sustainable Agriculture (CSA) documents pesticide poisoning discovered among the Indian rural population, which often ends fatally. "For instance Bayer's Hinosan pesticide (with the active ingredient Edifenfos) is involved in such poisonings we documented”, reports CSA.(2) With the sale of this pesticide, Bayer is violating the FAO Code of Conduct. According to the FAO, chemical substances of Classes I and II are not to be sold in tropical countries, because the climatic conditions only permit insufficient preventive measures to be taken during the handling of the pesticide. Poisoning (even fatal) is particularly more prevalent among the poorer rural population.

Market leader
In India, Bayer is market leader in agrochemicals and, in the field of pesticides, holds a market share of 23 percent (globally: 20 per cent). India is the company's fourth largest sales market on the entire continent - with tendency rising. "With its higher than average growth potential," India is one of the "most promising" markets in the Asia-Pacific region, Bayer boasts in its expansion strategies.(3) One of the two basic pillars of the business with India is the agricultural industry, including the pesticide section.

Marketing area
Bayer's annual business volume for 2005 for the "Asian-Pacific market" (4) came to approximately 4.6 billion Euros (16 percent of the company's global volume). It is the intention at headquarters in Leverkusen, "In the medium-term, to significantly increase this portion". Since 1990 the company has invested approximately 3.1 billion Euros, to buy out companies and finance research programs in the region, billions more are planned.

Large-scale projects
Bayer anticipates the most significant growth potential to be in the People's Republic of China. The company has been engaged there on a large scale, since it signed a cooperation contract with Beijing's Chemical Industry Ministry in 1993. In the meantime, China has become Bayer's second largest national sales market in Asia -, also in China with tendency rising. In the past year alone, the business volume with China grew a record 39 percent. The company transacted its unprecedented largest foreign investment in Caojing, near Shanghai, (approximately US Dollar 1.8 billion) and will soon operate three large-scale chemistry projects. Other investments and purchases, amounting to up to three-digit millions, supplement the expansion program.(5)

Bayer's Asian expansion, which at present is being pursued on a large scale, is not the first in the company's history. Already in the 19th Century, representatives of the company's headquarters in Leverkusen were active in Eastern and Southern Asia. In 1882, with the beginning of a rapid upswing of German industrial production, thanks to military adventures, Bayer reported its first activities in China. Business contacts to Japan followed in 1886 and the company opened its first manufacturing plant in India in 1896. Still before the outbreak of World War I, Bayer had succeeded in creating a complete subsidiary in Japan.

Number One
In the succeeding decades, expansion into Asia, either followed the trend of political developments or had an impact on them. The strategic role played by Bayer in the Nazi IG Farben enterprise and the resulting international buildup leading to war, is indisputable.(6) Parallel to the Berlin-Tokyo Axis the German chemistry multinational advanced its business in Asia and, in 1941, could establish a joint venture with Japan for the production of pesticides. These links were revived a few years after the war. Bayer was the first German enterprise to appear on the Tokyo Stock Exchange Index in 1988. Japan has remained Bayer's most lucrative Asian business partner.

Due to the constant business expansion with Beijing, observers are anticipating a change in rank: in the long run, the expansion objectives will shift to China. India also, which Berlin policy makers would like to see as China's competitor (7), could become more important to Bayer in the years to come. The basis is the company's standing in the Indian agriculture industry - and simultaneously its role in the pesticide branch. Already in 1995, company representatives announced their intention to remove the most hazardous pesticides from the market. According to information furnished by international specialists, this decision, which could weaken the company's position in India, has yet to be executed. German foreign policy interventions on behalf of the Indian victims and against the policy of the German manufacturers of this poison, are unknown.

(1), (2) Indien: Gefährliche Pestizide sofort vom Markt nehmen!; Presse Information vom 24. August 2006,
(3) Bayer in India;
(4) Wichtiger Markt der Zukunft: die Region Asien-Pazifik; asien-pazifik/page349.htm
(5) see also Dominant
(6) Carl Duisberg, Vorsitzender der Bayer AG am Vorabend des Hitler-Regimes: "Fortwährend ruft das deutsche Volk nach einem Führer, der es aus seiner unerträglichen Lage befreit. Kommt nun ein Mann, der bewiesen hat, dass er keine Hemmungen hat, und der gesonnen ist, den Geist der Frontgeneration in friedlicher Befreiungsarbeit einzusetzen und zu verwirklichen, so muss diesem Mann unbedingt Folge geleistet werden." In: Carl Duisberg, Abhandlungen, Vorträge und Reden aus den Jahren 1932-1933, Berlin 1933, S. 135.
(7) see also Target Radius Includes Beijing, Military Partner and Neue Phase