Bayer: Double standards in the sale of pesticides

India – Pesticides – Bayer

The transnational company Bayer AG from Germany distributes hazardous pesticides in India through its subsidiary Bayer CropScience AG. The company however fails to ensure that consumers are adequately informed of both the dangers of pesticides and the requisite protective measures. Through this failure, Bayer AG is endangering the health and lives of tens of thousands of people. This is set out in the monitoring report submitted to the World Health Organization in October 2015 by ECCHR together with partner organizations from Europe and Asia.


In October 2016, ECCHR filed a complaint against Bayer CropScience AG and Bayer AG in Germany before the Chamber of Agriculture in North Rhine-Westphalia. The reason: pesticide labels must contain warnings about health and environmental risks.

In Europe, Bayer sells Nativo with the warning that the product is “suspected of damaging the unborn child.” This warning is not given on the products sold in India by Bayer’s subsidiary Bayer CropScience Ltd. ECCHR submitted a complaint to the Chamber calling on it to examine Bayer AG’s business practices. The complaint to the chamber is supported by ECCHR partner organizations Kheti Virasat Mission in India as well as FIAN Deutschland, MIisereor and PAN Germany.


In February 2017, the chamber’s department of plant protection has responded that it is not obliged to further examine the complaint.

Upon ECCHR’s submission, the chamber launched an initial investigation into the export of Nativo and found that Bayer sends the pesticide to India in “big bags.” These do include a warning about the risks to unborn children, but the warning is absent from the products as sold in India. The chamber admitted that there was no monitoring of pesticides between 2014 and 2016, stating that they had no “indication that there were any nothworthy issues.” From October 2016, a national working group began working on a monitoring system.

In July 2016, the Ministry of Agriculture in New Delhi opened investigatory proceedings against Bayer subsidiary Bayer CropScience Ltd. (India) concerning the mislabeling and sale of Nativo in India. This follows a petition submitted to the ministry by the Indian civil movement Swadeshi Andolan in December 2015. ECCHR assisted with the petition by providing legal expertise.


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The injustices caused by the global economy take many forms. Very often it is marginalized people, for instance in India, whose rights are sidelined so that Western corporations can profit. CEOs and politicians in the countries where these companies are based seek to evade responsibility by pointing to the companies' suppliers, subsidiaries or internal social responsibility guidelines. But corporate social responsibility policies and even international corporate guidelines do little to improve the situation of most workers or farmers in countries like India where many remain in the most precarious to devastating working conditions.

School children given inadequate information about clinical trials undertaken by Western drug companies; famers who aren’t properly warned about the health risks attached to using pesticides – increasingly, people affected by corporate wrongs are organizing and resisting. ECCHR supports them and their organizations in what are often political struggles for social and economic rights. By making legal interventions with international bodies (e.g. the UN Food and Agriculture Organization) or before domestic courts (e.g. the Supreme Court of India), ECCHR works with those affected to put an end to Western corporate wrongs in India.


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