Daily News Archive
July 23, 2002
Bayer and the
UN Global Compact
itself a "founding member" of the UN Global Compact (a partnership
between the United Nations and big business), but Philipp Mimkes from
the Coalition Against Bayer Dangers reports its dedication to the Compact's
nine human rights and environmental principles should be seen in the
context of an extremely controversial corporate history.
Bayer AG, based in Leverkusen, Germany, is the third biggest manufacturer
of herbicides globally, and dominates the insecticide market. Insecticides
are responsible for the majority of pesticide poisoning in countries
in the Global South. The World Health Organization annually counts 2
million pesticide poisonings and estimates that the number of unreported
cases is probably higher than 10 million. About 200,000 people per year
die from pesticide poisonings, according to the WHO.
According the Coalition Against Bayer Dangers, in 1995 Bayer promised
to withdraw its most toxic pesticides, but has yet to do so, and still
sells pesticides rated by the WHO as 'extremely' or 'highly' hazardous.
Bayer claims that it is the responsibility of pesticide users to take
precautions; despite the fact that underpaid farm laborers often do
not have access to health and safety information.
To "minimize the risks to humans and the environment" Bayer
in Latin America has started the initiative "Agrovida." Several
thousand people in the rural farming region in southern Brazil were
trained in what the company considers safe pesticide use. According
to Bayer the program is geared towards sustainable farming.
The Coalition Against Bayer Dangers reports even in Brazil, where Agrovida
is based, Baysiston, the number one pesticide on the market, has poisoned
hundreds of coffee growers, at least 30 of them fatally. The bombardment
of advertisements for Baysiston camouflages the risks. Many coffee growers
even believe Baysiston to be a fertilizer, which increases yields. The
State Prosecutor who investigated the case complained about the publicity,
which presents the product as harmless, ignoring its potential risks.
Bayer stated that the company is aware of cases of Baysiston poisoning,
but that these cases were not due to lack of information but to "inexpert
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