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BAYER Shareholder Meeting on April 26 in Cologne: Coalition introduces Countermo

CBGnetwork | 11.04.2013 22:03 | Bio-technology | Ecology | Health | Cambridge | World

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.

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/Baycol 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.

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.

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.

Imported coal
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 Germany’s "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). BAYER’s subsidiary CURRENTA is a member of the German Coal Importers Association. The extensive combustion of coal is largely responsible for BAYER’s 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 Colombia’s 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, BAYER’s 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".
BAYER’s 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.

Sports sponsorship
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.

GM Rice
In 2003, the BAYER Group applied for the first time for an EU import license for genetically modified rice. The variety Liberty Link RICE 62 is tolerant against the herbicide Glufosinat, which is also produced by BAYER.
Until now, Liberty Link rice has never been cultivated commercially anywhere in the world. The targeted EU license and the European export market are intended to serve as a "door opener" in Asian and South American countries for local cultivation licenses.
In the votes taken so far, the majority of EU countries have expressed concerns about licensing. Ten years after submission of the application, approval has still not been granted. The licensing of Liberty Link rice should be refused in particular against the background of the health hazards emanating from Glufosinat. The active ingredient is classified as toxic to reproduction, and can cause deformities in fetuses. Glufosinat belongs to the group of the 22 active ingredients that, according to the EU pesticides legislation, should not have their license renewed.
Whereas BAYER has voluntarily dispensed with the licensing of the herbicide Liberty (active ingredient Glufosinat) in Germany, the company announced in February 2013 that it would again increase the production of Glufosinat for export. It is irresponsible to promote a cultivation technology abroad connected with the use of a highly toxic pesticide that is banned in Germany. The fate of the agricultural workers in Latin America or Asia is apparently of no concern to the company.
The ecological risks are also immense: it is known that the cultivation of genetically modified, herbicide-tolerant plants leads to the increased use of pesticides. The suppression of locally adapted varieties also leads to a reduction in the gene pool, which can, in the long term, result in problems fighting rice diseases.
In the event of large-area cultivation of Liberty Link rice, contamination of traditional varieties would be inevitable. Even the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) describes the risk of outcrossing as high (source: EFSA Journal, (2007) 588, 1-25). Because there is no intention of cultivating it in Europe, however, the risk was not included in the EFSA evaluation. The risks to “diversity of the species” and the health of farmers were therefore not considered in the EFSA report.
How justified the concerns about approval of genetically modified rice really are is illustrated by the example of contamination of the American rice harvest with the variety LL RICE 601, which is also tolerant towards Glufosinat. The long-grain variety found its way onto the market in 2006, although no license had been issued for it. The damage to the trade and farmers amounted to over 1 billion US dollars. Only after a lengthy legal dispute did BAYER declare its willingness to pay damages amounting to around 750,000 million dollars.
The introduction of herbicide-tolerant seeds is the wrong approach. Within a short time, it leads to the formation of resistant wild weeds that have to be combated with more and more pesticides. There is no improvement in harvests.

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.

There are considerable doubts about the safety of the new anticoagulant Xarelto, which BAYER is doing all it can to push onto the market. Data from the German Federal Institute for Drugs and Medical Devices (BfArM), which the Coalition against BAYER Dangers obtained on request, reveal that last year in Germany alone there were 58 deaths following the use of this drug and 750 cases of serious side effects.
In the US, registration of this product to treat blood clots in the coronary arteries has been delayed. In view of the high risk of bleeding, the FDA recently asked BAYER to submit further data on the risks of Xarelto. In February 2012 the FDA had already criticized BAYER because three deaths had not been documented in the dossiers submitted.
Previously BAYER encountered problems in the US authorization processes for the indications “prevention of thrombosis in knee and hip surgery” and “prevention of stroke and embolism in patients with atrial fibrillation”. The FDA asserted, among other things, that BAYER did not correctly set the dosages for study participants in the control group treated with Warfarin (related to Marcumar).
Experts advise against the use of Xarelto and advocate continued use of the established medications Marcumar or Warfarin. For example, the Drug Commission of the German Medical Association stated: “Overall, in the Commission’s view, where cardioembolism in patients with atrial fibrillation can be effectively prevented through treatment with vitamin K antagonists such as Phenprocoumon, there are no advantages in treatment with dabigatran or rivaroxaban (Xarelto). Their use should be confined to patients for whom vitamin K antagonists are not a treatment option.” Alongside price considerations – it is 15 times cheaper than Xarelto – the main argument in favour of Marcumar/Warfarin is that an antidote exists that can halt severe bleeding. This is not the case with Xarelto.
The approval process for Xarelto was difficult from the very beginning due to the many side effects and unclarified long-term effects. In India, at least four people taking part in the Xarelto trials have died. In each case, BAYER paid the surviving dependents a mere USD 5,250 as compensation. In the United States, therefore, Xarelto will be marketed with a warning that patients should not stop taking the drug without consulting a physician, as there is otherwise an increased risk of strokes occurring.
It is wrong for BAYER to press ahead with the marketing of a medication simply for profit reasons in the face of considerable doubts about its safety. The company should have learned from the LIPOBAY, TRASYLOL and YASMIN scandals. On principle, preparations that do not offer any benefit compared with older products should not receive marketing authorization.

Further information can be found on the website of the Coalition against BAYER Dangers:

Please help! Coalition against Bayer Dangers seriously at risk

Coalition against BAYER Dangers (in English)
Tel: (+49) 211-333 911 Fax: (+49) 211-333 940
please send an e-mail for receiving the English newsletter Keycode BAYER free of charge

Advisory Board
Prof. Juergen Junginger, designer
Prof. Dr. Juergen Rochlitz, chemist, former member of the German parliament
Wolfram Esche, attorney
Dr. Sigrid Müller, pharmacologist
Prof. Rainer Roth, social scientist
Eva Bulling-Schroeter, member of the German parliament
Prof. Dr. Anton Schneider, biologist
Dr. Janis Schmelzer, historian,
Dr. Erika Abczynski, pediatrician

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