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Can you Trust big Business? A look at Bayer AG


Overview

Bayer AG is a massive German based chemicals and pharmaceuticals manufacturer. It has operations in most countries worldwide and had global sales for 2000 of nearly $30 billion.[1] Its operations are divided into four sectors: Health, Agriculture, Polymers (plastics, synthetic rubber) and Chemicals. It has recently acquired Aventis’ controversial cropscience business, making it a key player in the development, commercialisation and sale of GM crops. As a major player in 4 controversial sectors for over 125 years Bayer has a distinguished history of corporate crimes ranging from the manufacture and sale of controversial drugs (Heroin, Ciproxin and Baycol), the development of chemical warfare agents and poisons (Chlorine Gas, Zyklon B and VX), the use of forced labour during WW2, and numerous cases of poisoning, side-effects and environmental pollution connected to its chemical and pharmaceutical products. In December 2001, Multinational Monitor rated Bayer AG as one of their Top Ten Worst Companies of the year.

1.3. History [6]

For over 125 years Bayer has been a major player in 4 of the most controversial business areas that capitalism has so far produced. They have a long and particularly nasty history of corporate crime (see also Corporate Crime section below internal link).

The first incarnation of what is currently Bayer AG was born out of the rush by European industrialists to develop and manufacture synthetic dyes in the second half of the 19th century. Friedrich Bayer and Johann Friedrich Weskott opened a dye factory in 1863 in Wuppertal, Germany. The company Farbenfabriken vorm. Friedr. Bayer & Co. was launched in 1883. Bayer quickly diversified their activities into other areas of chemical manufacture, including photography and pharmaceuticals. Bayer also established operations throughout Europe and the US. Early Bayer discoveries included Antinonin (synthetic pesticide, 1892), Aspirin (1897), Heroin (1898) and Buna (synthetic rubber 1915). During WWI Bayer, along with other chemical manufacturers (both Allied and German), turned their attention to the manufacture of chemical weapons [7] including chlorine gas used to horrendous effect in the trenches.

During WWI Bayer had formed a close association with other German chemical companies including BASF and Hoechst. This relationship was formalised in 1925 with merger of these companies as well as AGFA, and others, to form the IG Farben Trust.[8]

IG Farben continued to grow during the inter-war period as one of the most powerful chemical and pharmaceutical companies in the world. Products included polyurethanes and the first ‘sulpha’ drugs.

It is during Nazi-era Germany and WW2 that IG Farben (Bayer) entered its most sinister phase. IG Farben as the leading chemical company in Nazi Germany took over chemical plants across Nazi occupied Europe, used slave-labour in their factories (including operating their own concentration camp), conducted medical experiments on those held in the concentration camps and manufactured the poison gas used to kill thousands. At the end of the war the 1945 Potsdam Agreement called for the break up of IG Farben into its constituent companies. Twelve IG Farben employees and directors were jailed for war crimes at the Nuremburg Trials.

Bayer was re-established as Farbenfabriken Bayer AG in 1951, changing its name to the current Bayer AG in 1972. Although the post-WW2 Bayer is a different legal entity to the Bayer that pre-existed IG Farben, and that which formed part of IG Farben, a direct line of continuity can be traced between the personnel, infrastructure and technology of these 3 incarnations. Bayer has a very murky past that should be remembered.

For Bayer’s rose-tinted, and very selective, version of its own history have a look at their Bayer Tapestry http://www.bayer.co.uk/tapestry/

Controversies from Wikipedia

Aspirin discoverer

It has been documented that aspirin compounds were successfully synthesized by various other scientists or groups between 1848–1869, long before Bayer’s claims. This fact led to various patent litigations in the early 20th century.[14]

Arthur Eichengrün, a Bayer chemist, claimed to be the first to discover an aspirin formulation which did not have the unpleasant side effects of nausea and gastric pain. Eichengrün also claimed he invented the name aspirin and was the first person to use the new formulation to test its safety and efficacy. Bayer contends aspirin was discovered by Felix Hoffman to alleviate the sufferings of his father, who had arthritis. Various sources support the conflicting claims.[15][16][17]

[edit]Nazi chairman

In 1956 Fritz ter Meer became chairman of Bayer’s supervisory board. He was convicted at the Nuremberg trials for his part in carrying out experiments on human subjects at Auschwitz. He was found “guilty of count two, plunder and spoliation, and count three, slavery and mass murder” and sentenced to seven years imprisonment and served five years.[18]

HIV infected blood products

Main article: Contaminated haemophilia blood products

A cite from http://www.haemophilia-litigation.com/, access date 31 May 2006:

“After 1978, there were four major companies in the United States engaged in the manufacture, production and sale of Factor VIII and IX: Armour Pharmaceutical Company, Bayer Corporation and its Cutter Biological division, Baxter Healthcare and its Hyland Pharmaceutical division and Alpha Therapeutic Corporation, which have been or are defendants in certain lawsuits.

The plaintiffs allege that the companies manufactured and sold blood factor products as beneficial “medicines” that were, in fact of likely to be contaminated with HIV and/or HCV. This resulted in the mass infection and/or deaths of thousands of haemophiliacs worldwide.[19]

It is believed that three of these companies, Alpha, Baxter, and Cutter, recruited and paid donors from high risk populations, including prisoners (i.e. prison-based collections), intravenous drug users, and plasma centers with predominantly homosexual donors, esp. in cities with large populations thereof, to obtain blood plasma used for the production of Factor VIII and IX. Plaintiffs allege that these companies failed to exclude donors, as mandated by federal law, with a history of viral hepatitis. Such testing could have substantially reduced the likelihood of plasma containing HIV and/ or HCV entering plasma pools.”[20]

Baycol

After 52 deaths were blamed on an alleged side effect of Bayer’s anticholesterol drug Baycol, its manufacture and sale were discontinued in 2001. The side effect was rhabdomyolysis, causing renal failure, which occurred with a tenfold greater frequency in patients treated with Baycol in comparison to those prescribed alternate medications of the statin class.[21]

Medicaid reimbursement

In January 2001, Bayer agreed to pay $14 million to the United States and 45 states to settle allegations under the federal False Claims Act that the company caused physicians and other health care providers to submit fraudulently inflated reimbursement claims to Medicaid.[22]

Methyl parathion poisoning case

In October 2001, Bayer was taken to court after 24 children in the remote Andean village of Tauccamarca, Peru were killed and 18 severely poisoned when they drank a powdered milk substitute contaminated with the insecticide methyl parathion. A Peruvian Congressional Subcommittee found significant evidence of criminal responsibility by Bayer and the Peruvian Ministry of Agriculture.[23]

Liberty Link rice

In August 2006, it became apparent that the United States rice crop had been contaminated with unapproved genetically engineered Bayer CropScience rice.[24]

More specifically, the genetically engineered rice has an herbicide-resistance trait. These forms of rice are commonly referred to among US rice growers as, Liberty Link rice 601 or LL 601. Approximately 100 varieties of rice are produced primarily in the following six states: Arkansas, Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, and California.

2006 Trasylol safety advisory

In September 2006, Bayer was faulted by the FDA for not revealing during testimony the existence of a commissioned retrospective study of 67,000 patients, 30,000 of whom received Trasylol and the rest other antifibrinolytics. The study concluded Trasylol carried greater risks. The FDA was alerted to the study by one of the researchers involved. Although the FDA issued a statement of concern, they did not change their recommendation that the drug may benefit certain patients. In a Public Health Advisory Update dated 3 October 2006, the FDA recommended “physicians consider limiting Trasylol use to those situations in which the clinical benefit of reduced blood loss is necessary to medical management and outweighs the potential risks” and carefully monitor patients.[25] The FDA took Trasylol off the market on 5 November 2007.[26]

Prostate cancer claims

In October 2009, the Center for Science in the Public Interest sued Bayer for “falsely claiming that the selenium in Men’s One-A-Day multivitamins might reduce the risk of prostate cancer.”[27]

Neonicotinoid pesticides

In December 2010, a leaked memo from the EPA’s Environmental Fate and Effects Division asserted “Clothianidin’s (Bayer’s neonicotinoid pesticide) major risk concern is to non-target insects (that is, honey bees). Exposure through contaminated pollen and nectar and potential toxic effects therefore remain an uncertainty for pollinators.”[28][29][30] In January 2011, Avaaz.org launched an online petition to ban neonicotinoid pesticides.[31]

Imidacloprid

Main article: Imidacloprid effects on bee population

French and Nova Scotian beekeepers claim Bayer’s seed treatment imidacloprid kills honeybees. France has since issued a provisional ban on the use of imidacloprid for corn seed treatment pending further action. A consortium of U.S. beekeepers filed a civil suit against Bayer CropScience for alleged losses.

Chemical accidents

On 28 August 2008, an explosion occurred at the Bayer CropScience facility at Institute, West Virginia. A runaway reaction ruptured a tank and the resulting explosion killed two employees. The ruptured tank was close to a methyl isocyanate tank which was undamaged by the explosion.[32]

via Bayer AG : Overview.

via Bayer AG : Overview.

Voting By Sex, Age, Race, Money, And Education


Amazing Facts About US Presidential Voting By Sex, Age, Race, Money, And Education

Obama 347 electoral map

The New York Times has an awesome graphical breakdown of voting data from the 2012 Presidential election.

In case you had any doubt about how the country breaks down along gender, age, race, financial status, religion, education, and community lines, just have a glance at these stats.

Obama won “Women” by 11 points (55% to 44%). This was very important, because women made up 53% of voters.

Romney won “Men” by 7 points (52% to 45%). Men were only 47% of voters.

Obama won “Young voters” (18-29) by an astounding 24 points (60% to 36%). These folks were 19% of total voters.

Obama won “Young middle aged voters” (30-44) by an impressive 7 points (52% to 45%). These folks were 26% of total voters.

Romney won “Middle-aged voters” (45-59) by 5 points (52% to 47%). These were 29% of voters.

Romney won “Older voters” (60+) by 9 points (54% to 45%). These were 25% of voters.

Obama won “Black voters” by a staggering 87 points (93% to 6%). Blacks were 13% of voters.

Obama won “Asian voters” by a remarkable 47 points (73% to 26%). Asians were 3% of voters.

Obama won “Hispanic voters” by a remarkable 44 points (71% to 27%). Hispanics were 10% of voters.

Romney won “White voters” by 20 points (59% to 39%). Whites were 72% of voters.

Obama won gay, unmarried, and working-mother, and parents-with-young-kids voters by massive margins.

Romney won “married” voters.

Obama won uneducated (no high school), modestly educated (high school), and super-educated (graduate degree) voters.

Romney won college grads by a small margin.

Obama won by a staggering margin voters who said their financial situation is the same or better than 4 years ago.

Romney won by a big margin voters who said their financial situation is worse.

Obama won households making less than $49,999 by ~20 points

Romney won households making more than $50,000 by 6-10 points

Obama easily won voters who classify themselves as Democrats and Liberals and narrowly won those classifying themselves as Moderates

Romney easily won voters who classify themselves as Republicans and Conservatives, and very narrowly won Independents

Obama won by a landslide in big cities and easily in small cities.

Romney won easily in rural areas and more narrowly in the suburbs and towns.

Obama won Jewish voters handily (2% of voters) and Catholic voters (25% of voters) narrowly

Romney won protestants (53% of voters) and white evangelical Christians (26% of voters).

via Voting By Sex, Age, Race, Money, And Education – Business Insider.

via Voting By Sex, Age, Race, Money, And Education – Business Insider.

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