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Bayer AG is a massive German-based chemicals and pharmaceuticals manufacturer. It has operations in most countries worldwide and had global sales for 2000 of over €30 billion.[1] Its operations are divided into four sectors: Health, Agriculture, Polymers (plastics, synthetic rubber) and Chemicals. It has recently acquired Aventis' controversial crop science business, making it a key player in the development, commercialisation and sale of GM crops. As a major player in 4 controversial sectors for over 125 years Bayer has a distinguished history of corporate crimes ranging from the manufacture and sale of controversial drugs (Heroin, Ciproxin and Baycol), the development of chemical warfare agents and poisons (Chlorine Gas, Zyklon B and VX), the use of forced labour during WW2, and numerous cases of poisoning, side-effects and environmental pollution connected to its chemical and pharmaceutical products. In December 2001, Multinational Monitor rated Bayer AG as one of their Top Ten Worst Companies of the Year.[2]

Industry Areas

Bayer AG holds a key position in four market sectors: Healthcare (pharmaceuticals), Agriculture (seeds and agro-chemicals), Polymers (plastics, synthetic rubber, coatings) and Chemicals (chemical raw materials and specialised chemicals).

Market Share and Importance

Sector 2000 Sales [3] 2000 Global Ranking
Healthcare €10,028m n/a
Agriculture €3,455m joint 4th [4]
Chemicals €4,275m 5th [5]
Polymers €11,398m n/a

By comparison with its closest competitors Bayer is something of a dinosaur. It is the only company to still maintain substantial holdings in all of these 4 areas. Up until the late 90s competitors, such as Monsanto, Astra-Zeneca, Novartis, Aventis, Du-Pont, Dow and BASF, accumulated holdings in the same areas in an attempt to exploit the life-sciences concept, the idea being that through using bio-technology, profitable synergies were possible between these different sectors. The life-science bubble has all but burst. In the last two years all of Bayer's major competitors have shed their holdings in one or more of these sectors in order to focus on a more defined set of interests. Bayer looks set to maintain its quadripedal structure, having recently announced its intention to transfer its 4 business divisions into independent corporate units owned by Bayer AG as an ultimate holding company.


[6] For over 125 years Bayer has been a major player in 4 of the most controversial business areas that capitalism has so far produced. They have a long and particularly nasty history of corporate crime (see also Corporate Crime section).

The first incarnation of what is currently Bayer AG was born out of the rush by European industrialists to develop and manufacture synthetic dyes in the second half of the 19th century. Friedrich Bayer and Johann Friedrich Weskott opened a dye factory in 1863 in Wuppertal, Germany. The company Farbenfabriken vorm. Friedr. Bayer & Co. was launched in 1883. Bayer quickly diversified their activities into other areas of chemical manufacture, including photography and pharmaceuticals. Bayer also established operations throughout Europe and the US. Early Bayer discoveries included Antinonin (synthetic pesticide, 1892), Aspirin (1897), Heroin (1898) and Buna (synthetic rubber 1915). During WWI Bayer, along with other chemical manufacturers (both Allied and German), turned their attention to the manufacture of chemical weapons [7] including chlorine gas used to horrendous effect in the trenches. During WWI Bayer had formed a close association with other German chemical companies including BASF and Hoechst. This relationship was formalised in 1925 with merger of these companies as well as AGFA, and others, to form the IG Farben Trust.[8] IG Farben continued to grow during the inter-war period as one of the most powerful chemical and pharmaceutical companies in the world. Products included polyurethanes and the first 'sulpha' drugs. It is during Nazi-era Germany and WW2 that IG Farben (Bayer) entered its most sinister phase. IG Farben as the leading chemical company in Nazi Germany took over chemical plants across Nazi occupied Europe, used slave-labour in their factories (including operating their own concentration camp), conducted medical experiments on those held in the concentration camps and manufactured the poison gas used to kill thousands. At the end of the war the 1945 Potsdam Agreement called for the break up of IG Farben into its constituent companies. Twelve IG Farben employees and directors were jailed for war crimes at the Nuremburg Trials. Bayer was re-established as Farbenfabriken Bayer AG in 1951, changing its name to the current Bayer AG in 1972. Although the post-WW2 Bayer is a different legal entity to the Bayer that pre-existed IG Farben, and that which formed part of IG Farben, a direct line of continuity can be traced between the personnel, infrastructure and technology of these 3 incarnations. Bayer has a very murky past that should be remembered.

For Bayer's rose-tinted, and very selective, version of its own history have a look at their Bayer Tapestry

PR, Lobbying and Business Intelligence firms



Bayer is listed as a client of Business Insights[9]

In 2008, Bayer is listed as a client of...


Bayer was a donor to the Science Media Centre from May 2009 to August 2013 according to the SMC.[16]



  1. ^ Bayer Financial Report 2000
  2. ^ Corporations Behaving Badly: The Ten Worst Corporations of 2001, Russel Mokhiber and Robert Weissman, Multinational Monitor, December 2001, pp.8-19
  3. ^ Bayer Financial Report 2000
  4. ^ Corporate Change, Barbara Dinham, PAN UK
  5. ^ Global Top 50 Chemical Companies, Patricia L. Short, Chemical & Engineering News (C&EN), Vol.79 No.30 (23 July 2001), pp.23-27
  6. ^ Information for this section, unless further referenced in text, comes from Bayer AG's own web site at and Hoover's Online profile available at,2147,41808,00.html and from Global Parasites: Five Hundred Years of Western Culture, Winin Pereira and Jeremy Seabrook, 1994 Earthcare Books, pp.137-138
  7. ^ The Chemical Industry 1900-1930: International Growth and Technological Change, L.F. Haber, 1971 Clarendon Press Oxford, p.209. Also Bayer:Research, Innovation, and Perseverance available online from 'The Pharmaceutical Century'
  8. ^ Industrial Germany: A study of its Monopoly Organisations and their Control by the State, Hermann Levy, 2001, pp.65-66, available on line at
  9. ^ Business Insights Patient Power: The shift towards more informed, more powerful consumers of drugs Accessed 5th February 2008.
  10. ^ Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO Ltd Clients Accessed 12th February 2008
  11. ^ Innovex Our Customers Accessed 12th February 2008
  12. ^ Public Relations Organisations InternationalVan Luyken Cummunicatie Adviseurs accessed 13th February 2008.
  13. ^ Public Relations Organisation International Inforpress accessed 13th February 2008
  14. ^ FischerAppelt Kommunikation Current & former clients Accessed 14th February 2008
  15. ^MWW Group Clients Accessed 18th March 2008
  16. ^Data from Internet Archive holdings of the Science Media Centre website, 2002-2013.


  1. Incisive Health Clients, accessed 25 June 2015.
  2. Register 1st September 2014 - 30th November 2014 APPC, accessed 29 January 2015
  3. Register for 1st December 2012 - 28th February 2013 APPC, accessed 28 January 2015