Bayer: from aspirin to pesticides

Bayer: from aspirin to pesticides

The Bayer company of German origin began an advertising campaign to hide the negative image that Monsanto drags and to link transgenics with health. Bayer's hidden past and its ties to Nazism.

From aspirin to pesticides. Germany's Bayer bought Monsanto and, after approval from the United States and the European Union, became the leading agribusiness company. Aware of Monsanto's bad image, he began an advertising campaign to dissociate himself from the complaints, but critical social organizations and academics are already questioning Bayer about the social, environmental and health consequences of the agricultural model. In Germany, Bayer's country of origin, it is prohibited to plant GMOs.

“If it's Bayer it's good” was a very effective advertising campaign for decades. But it is resignified by social movements: "If it's Bayer, it's Monsanto." The German multinational began in 2016 the purchase of the American company Monsanto, one of the companies with the worst image and the most complaints in history, producer of the chemical "agent orange" (used in the Vietnam War), the carcinogenic refrigerant PCB, the transgenic soybeans and the pesticide glyphosate.

Despite the fact that Bayer will have a dominant position, the European Union's Directorate-General for Competition approved the merger last March. The same was done by the US Department of Justice in May. The purchase was for 66,000 million dollars.

Bayer thus became the largest transgenic and agro-toxic seed company in the world. His first announcement was that the name of Monsanto will disappear (although it will continue to market all its products) and began an advertising campaign to improve its image. It uses the same arguments as Monsanto to increase its sales: it promises that with more GMOs and chemicals it will combat world hunger.

For half a century, agribusiness companies have publicized this argument, denied countless times by critical peasant movements and academics. Even organizations that support agribusiness (such as FAO, the United Nations) clarify that hunger is not about lack of food but about a distribution problem.

Bayer's Coordination against Dangers is a European network of organizations and activists who disseminate complaints about the company's actions, both in its pharmaceutical and agribusiness aspects. “Bayer and Monsanto's business model is unscrupulous. Both derive their benefits from pesticides and genetic manipulation techniques, damage the health of farmers and consumers, alter the climate, destroy biodiversity and endanger the foundations of food and subsistence for future generations. Now Bayer, by merging with Monsanto, enhances this threatening business model and seeks to increase the benefits of its large shareholders at the expense of people and nature, "said the organization.

Silvia Ribeiro, a researcher at the ETC Group (Action Group on Erosion, Technology and Concentration), has been studying the corporate concentration of agriculture for thirty years. “The disappearance of the name Monsanto is a triumph of the widespread popular resistance, of peasant women and men, of environmentalists and consumers against transgenics. It is not a minor achievement. Although GMOs are still in markets, fields and food, there is a general rejection of them. The transnationals, Bayer included, have not managed to colonize our minds ", he stressed.

He recalled that only a score of countries sow transgenics massively and that there are more than 160 countries that do not allow the commercial cultivation of transgenics (among others, Germany, Bayer country).

A central issue is the control of seeds and pesticides. Three conglomerates, plus Germany's BASF, dominate the sector: Bayer-Monsanto, Syngenta-ChemChina and DuPont-Dow (they formed the new company Corteva Agriscience). They handle 60 percent of the global commercial seed market, 100 percent of the transgenic seed market and 70 percent of the agro-toxin market.

Bayer accumulates complaints of contamination to the environment, poisoning by pesticides, legal cases for clinical trials of products in India, conditions of its contraceptive pills in the United States, hormonal test deformities in Germany and the United Kingdom. But his most silenced crime is the one denounced by Fernando Bejarano González, a Mexican investigator who for the 150 years of Bayer (2013) summarized in a concise document the actions of the company. "The Dark Past of German Transnationals" is the title and explains the company's agreement with Nazism to "develop experiments with prisoners from the Auschwitz concentration camp."

The Mexican researcher takes up the work of Diarmuid Jeffreys (author of "History of IG Farben") and recalls that the company paid Nazism for slave workers and was in charge of the synthetic rubber concentration camp called "Buna / Monowitz", which he had 10,000 prisoners. Another fact silenced by Bayer is that it produced (through the Degesch subsidiary) the gas with which they murdered in the Birkenau-Auschwitz death camp (“Zyklon B”, a pesticide).

At the Nüremberg trial (which tried the crimes of Nazism) thirteen senior executives of the I.G. Farben for enslavement, participating in the forced labor program and for active participation in the genocidal politics of Nazism.

Bayer hides that past, finances advertising campaigns for GMOs and pesticides, and has a new slogan: "Science for a better life."

By Darío Aranda

Source: Page 12

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