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Sustainability is central to Bayer’s group strategy and an integral part of our business strategies. We aim to achieve lasting commercial success by connecting economic growth with ecological and social responsibility.
Collectively, we face an urgent and unprecedented challenge to ensure that everyone can thrive while using our planet’s resources in a sustainable way.There is overwhelming scientific evidence that humanity cannot proceed at the current level of resource consumption. It requires the world to find a new balance between producing and preserving.
Our vision is “Health for all, Hunger for none”
We need to help more people thrive while using our planet’s resources responsibly. As a global company with leading businesses in health and nutrition, we address fundamental human needs that are essential for a sustainable and inclusive world. Our innovations, products and services enable us to contribute significantly towards meeting the Sustainable Development Goals set by the United Nations. We remain committed to having a positive impact on society and the planet hand-in-hand with financial performance – guided by our purpose “Science for a better life”.
We will provide sustainable solutions from within our core business
We have set measurable sustainability targets for the company: By combining the specific strengths of our Crop Science, Pharmaceuticals and Consumer Health divisions, we want to spark a systemic response to the complex challenges we face. This approach will unlock our potential to drive sustainable development around the world as well as create new opportunities for our business.
Bayer’s Sustainability targets reinforced by Governance Commitments
We hold ourselves accountable in honoring our potential and responsibility to help build a more sustainable future for us all. That’s why, in addition to supporting the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, we have also independently outlined many of our own. In 2019, we announced a comprehensive set of ambitious sustainability targets by 2030 and commitments:
Bayer aims to be completely carbon-neutral in its own operations by 2030
We have outlined ambitious objectives to increase access to health and nutrition for low- and middle-income countries, with particular focus on empowering underserved communities. By 2030, we want to:
support 100 million smallholder farmers to produce enough food to feed themselves and others, and to improve their incomes.
provide 100 million women with access to family planning, which also means empowering them to exercise their rights as women and fulfill their potential, which is critical for the socioeconomic development of their domestic national economies.
increase the availability and affordability of our pharmaceutical products via equitable pricing and patient affordability programs, with the ambition to reach 100 million people.
expand access to everyday health for 100 million people in underserved communities.
In addition, in our Crop Science Business
we want to reduce the field greenhouse gas emitted by key crops in the main regions we serve by 30%.
we further want to reduce the environmental impact of crop protection by 30%.
Commitments: we also strengthened our Governance mechanisms to ensure a sustainable business development
We have integrated our sustainability goals into the compensation system for the Board of Management by resolution of the 2020 Annual Stockholders’ Meeting. Under the new system, 20 percent of the Board of Management’s long-term variable compensation (LTI) will be linked to the attainment of our sustainability goals starting in 2021.
We have initiated an independent Sustainability Council, which will advise the Board of Management in all sustainability matters.
Our vision with its focus on innovation and sustainability is based on values and behaviors. To ensure that we meet current societal expectations and create value for all stakeholders through our business activities, we have enacted the Bayer Societal Engagement (BASE) Principles. They represent our guiding principles and form the basis for our activities.
Transparency initiative: We also enhanced our commitment to build up and strengthen trust by making information accessible from a whole range of areas. Transparency is a top priority for Bayer.
Dialogue with investors
Continuous and systematic dialogue with our stakeholders –particularly investors – is important to us. Within the scope of our expanded integrated sustainability strategy, we aim to further intensify dialogue with capital market participants whose investment decisions are aligned to ecological and social criteria and responsible corporate governance.
If you have any questions about how Bayer is pursuing sustainability, please contact us directly at our Corporate Sustainability department.
We also inform our stakeholders about developments in non-financial data and performance indicators in our Sustainability Report.
Recent Updates / News
MSCI lifts red flag on Bayer Controversy
MSCI ESG Research updated the ESG Controversies Report on Bayer, including a reassessment of the critical section on “Environmental concerns over GMO crops”. The updated ESG Controversies Report is now available in MSCI’s ESG Manager. During the last years, Bayer was in continuous discussions with MSCI ESG Research and provided substantial information for their assessment.
Following the removal of the red flag of the ESG rating agency ISS related to neonicotinoid insecticides last year, this is another important milestone in improving Bayer’s ESG profile.
By further extending our communication on controversial topics, we want to assist our stakeholders – capital market participants and intermediaries in particular – with meaningful information helping to evaluate Bayer’s ESG performance fairly and objectively. In the Transparency Webinar dated June 2022, we give a condensed overview about our latest publications of the UN Global Compact Adherence Report, the Report about Genetically Modified Crops and the updated Report about Neonicotinoid Insecticides.
Going forward, we will continue on our path increasing transparency especially on ESG topics and working together with our stakeholders.
Bayer in Sustainability Indices
Bayer continues to be included in important sustainability indices such as FTSE4Good, MSCI World Low Carbon Target Index, STOXX® Europe Sustainability Index, STOXX® Global ESG Impact and DAX® 50 ESG Index. In addition, in 2020 Bayer was again evaluated by the CDP (Carbon Disclosure Project) as one of the leading international pharmaceutical companies in the areas of climate protection and sustainable water management.
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Industry Association Climate Review
We are dedicated to a climate policy that is in harmony with our ambitious climate targets. To ensure transparency in this process, Bayer publishes its Industry Association Climate Review.
The review assesses the alignment of our industry associations’ climate positions with our own commitments on climate change. Our industry associations represent us in the public debate, so we need to be transparent about where our climate-change goals are aligned with their actions and where we have different views. Where we find misalignment between our climate ambitions and those of our industry associations, we will take measures to bridge that gap.
Thus, the 2021 review is the first step and forms the basis for Bayer’s continued commitment to advocacy for science-based policies addressing climate change through its member associations. In compiling the analysis, we have engaged with CA 100+. For more background and additional information, please also see the interview with Marco Annas, Head of Public Affairs.
Please see below some initial quotes on the first Industry Association Climate Review from the CA100+ engagement leads:
“We are very pleased to see the publication of Bayer’s first Industry Association Climate Review. The results evidence a lack of positioning on climate-related issues from over half of the organisations assessed and reinforces the critical importance of company engagement around this topic to prevent misalignment between rhetoric and action. Through ongoing dialogue as part of Climate Action 100+, Bayer has shown its openness to investor feedback and its commitment to support and advocate for science-based climate policy. Union Investment looks forward to continued engagement with Bayer on its increased alignment with the Climate Action 100+ Net-Zero Company Benchmark.”
Janne Werning, Head of ESG Capital Markets and Stewardship, Union Investment
“The Church Commissioners welcome Bayer’s first Industry Association Climate Review and engagement with Climate Action 100+. Bayer’s commitment to transparency and their engagement with misaligned and partially misaligned associations are appreciated, and we look forward to seeing tangible results. We also welcome Bayer’s aspiration to work with relevant organisations that currently have no climate stance to develop positions that support the low carbon transition across the global economy. The Church Commissioners will continue to engage with Bayer on environmental issues and value our ongoing constructive dialogue.”
Bess Joffe, Head of Responsible Investment, Church Commissioners for England
Topics of Interest for Rating Agencies
In our discussions with stakeholders/raters, we hear and address allegations on certain topics. However, the scientific evidence we provide that supports our position on these areas is not always fully reflected in some rating agencies’ assessments. To promote further transparency with the public and investors, we include the following information to foster an objective evaluation.
After the EU restricted the use of neonicotinoid insecticides, some rating agencies have classified their concerns about the compatibility of Bayer's continued production and marketing of neonicotinoid insecticides with the environmental principles of the UN Global Compact as serious controversy.
The following report intends to reflect our responsible business action towards risk mitigation and tracking systems to guarantee the safe use of our neonicotinoid-based products.
I: Bayer neonicotinoid risk management proposal (2009)
II: Descriptions of risk mitigation measures for seed treatment
III: Admire PRO label highlighting specific precautions to protect bees
IV: Poster demonstrating the global nature of collaborative bee research
V: Annual Report (2021) Healthy Hives LATAM / Salud Apicola
VI: Monitoring bee poisoning incidents in UK (2016)
VII: Monitoring bee poisoning incidents in the EU (2009)
Bayer accepts the European Court Ruling on Neonicotinoids:
In May 2021, the European Court of Justice revealed its second instance ruling on the pending court case which resulted in some media attention.
Background: In July 2018, Bayer appealed against the ruling of the General Court of the European Union in Case T-429/13. This case was originally launched to assess the 2013 (initial) EU restrictions on the use of neonicotinoids. By appealing against the verdict, Bayer was seeking clarification of regulatory aspects, whose wide-ranging importance is not focused on neonicotinoids, alone, and aimed to ensure that some general interpretations concerning the certainty and predictability of the general regulatory system were re-considered.
The appeal concerning the 2013 restrictions did not and was not intended to bring neonicotinoids back to the EU market. The 2013 (initial) restrictions were superseded by the 2018 (final) restrictions, which Bayer did not challenge, which are legally final and binding, Moreover, we also pro-actively withdrew imidacloprid and clothianidin from the renewal process in the EU and have publicly stated that we had no intention of applying for re-registrations of these products.
Bayer respects the European legislative process and accepts the 2018 decision of the EU Member States to broadly restrict the use of certain neonicotinoids in agriculture.
The rating agency MSCI has claimed that GMO (Genetically Modified Organism) crops are harmful to the environment and has classified this as a very severe controversy. Here we will separate fact from fiction.
Farmers of all types, conventional and organic, take measures to prevent unwanted cross pollination. The issue of pollen flow has been important to seed companies and scientists for decades. Because corn – one of our most important products in our seed portfolio - is an open pollinating plant, it is important to our business to understand how far pollen travels and under what conditions. This knowledge translates into best management practices, such as planting at recommended separation distances or timing the planting so that pollination of the two fields occurs at different times1.
Studies that have been done to-date (cotton in the United States and India, soybeans in the U.S.) find that the introduction of GM crops has not decreased crop diversity2.
Additionally, a report from the American Seed Trade Association explains that, "Building upon many generations of experience, coexistence involves agricultural best practices that bring the greatest benefit to all along the agricultural value chain from seed developers to farmers and from retailers to consumers — from field to fork." The report reminds us that, "The coexistence of various production methods is not a new concept to the agricultural community," and that, "Farmers are accustomed to producing different crops next to one another." Read the full report for more information on the set of tools used to facilitate coexistence in the seed industry3.
Development of effective control mechanisms to limit the contamination of non-GM fields with GM crops
Bayer has extensive measures to avoid any possibility of cross pollination. Additionally, Bayer is audited by Excellence Through Stewardship (ETS)i. As part of our quality program, we study the flow of pollen and how this could be translated into best management practices such as separation distances or timing of plantings.
The Technology Use Guide (TUG) provides a concise source of technical information about Bayer’s current portfolio of technology products and sets forth the requirements and guidelines for the use of these products.
1 Gmoanswers.com / University of Ohio (https://agcrops.osu.edu/newsletter/corn-newsletter/2015-04/minimizing-pollen-contamination-non-gmo-corn / https://butler.osu.edu/news/managing-pollen-drift-minimize-contamination-non-gmo-corn ) and University of California, Davis (https://anrcatalog.ucanr.edu/pdf/8192.pdf).
2 Graham Brookes & Peter Barfoot (2017) Environmental impacts of genetically modified (GM) crop use 1996–2015: Impacts on pesticide use and carbon emissions, GM Crops & Food, 8:2, 117-147, DOI: 10.1080/21645698.2017.1309490
i Excellence Through Stewardship www.excellencethroughstewardship.org. ETS member organizations implement product stewardship (responsible management, handling, governance, oversight, traceability etc.) best practices by way of our technical resources which include guidance on quality management systems, gap analysis, checklists and other material.
We’re unaware of any open litigation claiming cross pollination/contamination involving sugarbeets or any other crops, as described in one report. In the U.S., previous legal cases involving cross pollination were actually more about allegations that the U.S. government needed to regulate or assess GM crops more closely, or allegations that related to intellectual property concerns rather than cross contamination.
This is why we cannot settle any litigation – as requested by rating agencies.
Some GM crops include a genetic trait, derived from a common soil bacterium, Bacillus thuringiensis (or Bt), that enables them to resist insect pests. Many critics of GM crops have argued that the insecticidal Bt trait is also harmful to bees, but there is almost no evidence to support this claim4.
The Bt proteins in insect-protected GM plants have been evaluated for potential toxicity to honey bees in numerous studies and none of them have provided any evidence of harm in either short- or long-term testing with both adult and larval honey bees. One study, in which bees were exposed to extremely high doses of the protein, found that bees fed less, and long-term memory may be impaired. However, when the high concentrations were compared to more realistic field exposures, the same authors concluded that negative effects on honey bee foraging behavior were unlikely to occur under natural conditions.
Based on the lack of activity of Bt proteins against honey bees and the results of multiple laboratory and field studies evaluating both lethal and sublethal effects, there is a sufficient weight of evidence to conclude that any risk from GM crops to honey bees is negligible.
4 Source: BEEINFOrmed N°8_2019, page 42
We have been involved in various initiatives to better understand living conditions of butterflies and come to the conclusion that not only the reduction in the food supply due to the disappearance of the silk plant, but also climatic events affect the survival and reproduction of the monarch butterfly.
Monarch butterfly population has decreased by 10 percent in the last 20 years in the U.S. due to the decline of milkweed5. But monarch butterflies face many challenges that have contributed to a decline in the overwintering population as compared to the 20-year average: loss of breeding and food habitats along their migration route, weather and climate change, predators, pathogens and parasites, and less overwintering habitat in Mexico.
In January 2019, the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and the Mexican National Commission of Protected Natural Areas (CONANP) reported a 144% increase in the annual eastern monarch population compared to the previous year.
We are committed to verifying our position in cooperation with other stakeholders and to review the facts. That is why we have programs in place to support the monarch butterfly and other pollinators. As an example, we have stepped forward to play a key role in the effort to restore milkweed populations outside of cultivated fields to help sustainably restore monarch populations.
For more information on outreach activities related to Monarch Butterflies click here.
5 1: Boyle JH, Dalgleish HJ, Puzey JR. Monarch butterfly and milkweed declines substantially predate the use of genetically modified crops. Proc Natl Acad Sci US A. 2019 Feb 19;116(8):3006-3011. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1811437116. Epub 2019 Feb 5. PubMed PMID: 30723147; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC6386695.
The safety of biotech crops has been confirmed by numerous third-party organizations, including the American Medical Association, the Society of Toxicology, the National Academy of Sciences in the United States, the Royal Society of the United Kingdom, the World Health Organization, the French Academy of Medicine, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and the European Union Commission. These conclusions have been based on years of research and assessments6.
In 2018, 26 countries planted, and 44 countries imported biotech crops. As of today, 58 GMOs are authorized in the EU for food and feed uses.
6 ISAAA. 2018. Global Status of Commercialized Biotech/GM Crops in 2018. ISAAA Brief No. 54. ISAAA: Ithaca, NY
As an innovative leader in healthcare and agriculture, Bayer recognizes that our impact is measured not only by what we have to offer, but also by how we engage with society and communities around the world.
The Bayer Societal Engagement (BASE) Principles guide our interactions with everyone – our employees, patients, customers, consumers, business partners, public policy stakeholders, scientists, critics and our shareholders worldwide. We seek to listen, understand, take concerns seriously, and respectfully engage in dialogue, especially where dialogue is hard or inconvenient. We strive to create shared value and achieve win-win situations in everything we do. To achieve that, we make sure our engagement with society accompanies the transformational potential of our portfolio and our talented people.
We do monitor the intellectual property rights to our innovations seriously. However, we have not and do not enforce these against smallholder farmers who grow exclusively to meet their own needs and the needs of their families. We are committed to ensuring that access to our intellectual property is broad and license fees are fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory.
For more than 40 years, farmers – as well as governments, gardeners, and other users – have depended on glyphosate as an efficient and cost-effective tool that can be used safely as directed to control weeds. Glyphosate-based herbicides help farmers deliver crops to markets while promoting sustainable farming by reducing soil tillage, soil erosion and carbon emissions.
There is an extensive body of research on glyphosate and Monsanto/Bayer’s glyphosate-based herbicides, including more than 100 studies the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) considered relevant to its cancer risk analysis and more than 800 safety studies overall submitted to regulators, concluding that Bayer’s glyphosate-based herbicides can be used safely as directed and that glyphosate is not carcinogenic.
The conclusions of leading health authorities around the world, including EPA, European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), European Chemicals Agency (ECHA), German BfR, and Australian, Canadian, Korean, New Zealand and Japanese regulatory authorities, as well as the Joint FAO/WHO Meeting on Pesticide Residues (JMPR), continue to support the safety of glyphosate‐based products when used as directed and that glyphosate is not carcinogenic. In January 2020, the EPA’s latest interim registration review decision on glyphosate reaffirmed that it "did not identify any human health risks from exposure to glyphosate."
The respective rating agencies interpret the principles of the UN Global Compact following their own methodology.
Bayer respects all ten principles of the UN Global Compact. We believe in the rigors of science and ensure all our products meet the relevant safety and environmental standards required by the regulatory approval process.
Bayer, as the industry leader in crop protection and seeds, is committed to Product Stewardship as an integral part of our activities, ensuring that our products, services and technologies are safe and sustainable, and their use is environmentally responsible while meeting customer expectations and needs.