Press Release, June 16, 2009
Coalition against Bayer Dangers (Germany)
Letter to the United Nations
Exclude Bayer from Global Compact
The Coalition against Bayer Dangers, an international network based in Germany, today urged the United Nations to exclude the chemical and pharmaceutical corporation Bayer from the UN Global Compact. In a complaint to the Compact´s Executive Director, Georg Kell, the group points to Bayer´s recent serious violations of the Global Compact´s principles and integrity measures.
Axel Koehler-Schnura, board member of the Coalition against Bayer Dangers, says: “Bayer has a long history of giving profits precedence over human rights and a sound environment. We have documented hundreds of cases when Bayer´s products or factories have harmed people or the environment. Bayer's participation in the Global Compact is detrimental to the reputation of the programme and its participants. The Coalition has been monitoring the chemical and pharmaceutical company Bayer for more than 30 years and is working on a broad range of issues such as emissions of Bayer plants, hazards caused by Bayer products, and accidents in Bayer plants.
The complaint is based on the aftermath of the huge explosion at Bayer's US facilities in Institute/US last year. According to a US Congress investigation faulty safety systems, significant shortcomings with the emergency procedures and a lack of employee training led to the catastrophe. The region narrowly escaped a catastrophe that could have surpassed the 1984 Bhopal disaster. The investigation continues: "Evidence obtained by the committee demonstrates that Bayer engaged in a campaign of secrecy by withholding critical information from local, county and state emergency responders; by restricting the use of information provided to federal investigators; by undermining news outlets and citizen groups concerned about the dangers posed by Bayer's activities; and by providing inaccurate and misleading information to the public."
Philipp Mimkes from the Coalition against Bayer Dangers adds: “These findings prove that Bayer systematically violates various principles of the Global Compact, such as principle 7 (Precautionary environmental protection), Principle 8 (Specific commitment to environmental protection) and Principle 9 (Diffusion of environmentally friendly technologies). Bayer´s policies do not comply with the Compact's principles on the environment and thereby are harmful to the credibility of the programme. We therefore urge the UN to exclude Bayer from the Global Compact.
In the 1980s, the Institute factory belonged to Union Carbide and was regarded as the "sister plant" to the infamous factory in Bhopal, India where in December 1984 thirty tons of MIC leaked and at least 15,000 people died. Today, nowhere else in the United States such large quantities of MIC are produced and stored.