The Bayer Group of companies is a transnational corporation involved in a diverse range of industries including health, agrochemicals, biotechnology and materials science. Bayer AG, the holding company based in Germany, controls the limited companies running the different businesses: Bayer HealthCare AG, Bayer CropScience AG, Bayer MaterialScience AG, and other service oriented business units. As of 2009, Bayer CropScience is the world's second largest agrochemical company and the seventh largest seed company.
Reported Sales: EUR 39.76 billion (2012)
Net Income: EUR 2.446 billion (2012)
Workforce: 110,500 employees worldwide
Revenues are from: Veterinary drugs, diagnostic imaging, general and specialty medicines, women's health products, over-the-counter drugs, diabetes care, pesticides, plant biotechnology, polymers, coatings, adhesives
Initially starting out as producers of synthetic dyes, it became involved in the production of explosives and other war chemicals during World War I. Along with BASF, Hoechst and three other companies, Bayer was merged into I.G. Farbenindustrie, which took advantage of slave labour in concentration camps, and produced chemicals used in the extermination camps under the Nazi regime. After Word War II, the Allied powers allowed Bayer to reemerge as an individual business.
Bayer has been involved in the production and manufacture of the most hazardous pesticides - aldicarb, azinphos-methyl, baysiston, carbofuran, endosulfan, fenamiphos, fenthion, fipronil, lindane, methyl parathion. Endosulfan is now listed for global elimination (Annex A) of the Stockholm Convention. The organophosphates azinphos-methyl and methyl parathion attack the nervous system, and affect the brain development of children. One human subject of Bayer's test on azinphos-methyl claimed the company did neither inform him he was being exposed to pesticide nor received appropriate medical care. Methyl parathion caused the death of 24 children and poisoning of the 18 more in Peru.
In 2010, the top ten pesticides in sales include imidacloprid (EUR 597 million), trifloxystrobin, glufosinate-ammonium (EUR 270 million), clothianidin (EUR 192 million), and deltamethrin (EUR 184 million). Imidacloprid and clothianidin, both belonging to the neonicotinoid class of pesticides, have both been implicated in the widespread death of bees, referred to as Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD), in Europe and the United States. Neonicotinoids now threaten bee populations and farmer livelihoods in Asia and the Pacific. Glufosinate usage have increased with the introduction of the genetically Roundup Ready crops, and has been implicated in the death of Silvino Talavera, an 8-yr old boy from Paraguay.
Bayer has also been found to have dumped its toxic legacies in Nepal.
Aventis Crop Sciences, which was later on acquired by Bayer, developed the herbicide-resistant LibertyLink rice that eventually led to the GM contamination of the rice grown in the US eventually spreading to other countries. This resulted in massive losses in the livelihood of rice farmers. It also developed StarLink, a variety of Bt corn, which was eventually found on the human food supply chain despite limitations of its use as animal feed.