Shame on You

Update: This article tells you the latest and most shocking!! It’s fabulous news!

I am live streaming Bayer’s Annual Shareholder Meeting in the wee hours of the morning. I put the meeting on one part of my computer screen, and Twitter-fed videos of hundreds of protesters standing outside of the meeting on the other.

One group of protesters chants: “Shame on you” over and over, as investors crowd into the Bonn conference center. There appear to be many young people with signs, and reportedly, placards mocking Bayer’s corporate motto “science for a better life.” I wish I could be there.

The viewers of the live stream are first treated to a pre-edited collection of happy images of Bayer shareholders wandering the building, accompanied by cheery, energizing music. I am immediately reminded of the Sabre Training Video from The Office.  A polished Bayer woman with a fake smile checks in a shareholder and hands her a packet of information for the meeting.

In a drastic change of tone, the scene turns austere. The video cuts to CEO Werner Baumann and Supervisory Board Chairman Werner Wenning vigorously and forcefully shaking hands on stage for photos. I sense anxiety.

Wenning takes the stage, and an English translator gets to work performing live, impressively monotone translations of German. At the sound of these combined voices, my dogs awaken and run to the door barking.  

Wenning quickly admits that Bayer has been: “hit quite hard by the ongoing lawsuits” with regards to glyphosate in America. He acknowledges the questions that shareholders have recently been asking regarding whether the legal risks of Monsanto and glyphosate had “been assessed properly in the acquisition.” He assures shareholders that they were thorough in their assessment.

Baumann takes the stage next, claiming that he is “delighted so many of you have turned out today.” I’m sure he is. He quickly acknowledges that it has been a difficult year and the that the lawsuit verdicts are worrying.

As he winds through a variety of Bayer topics, the predictable party lines are repeated: glyphosate is a safe product, helps to combat hunger and is in line with the sustainable agriculture goals of the UN (!!!)

I note a very slight hedge when Baumann explains that they thoroughly looked through the materials that Monsanto supplied them when considering the acquisition. He is not saying that he saw any of the incriminating internal “Monsanto Papers” emails, which potentially could help Bayer legally down the road to prove that they were had by Monsanto.

More highlights:

  • All of those tasked with the due diligence for the acquisition considered the risk to be low. The positive regulatory assessments on glyphosate corroborated this belief.
  • Bayer executives were “convinced at the time and again today that glyphosate is a safe product when used as directed. That view is based on science.” Baumann continues that regulatory authorities carry out product testing, constantly inspecting and analyzing products for safety. We well know here on GG that they most certainly DO NOT perform reliable inspections or analyses of glyphosate for safety.
  • In January 2019, Health Canada performed an extensive safety review of glyphosate. Guess what? They found it to be non-carcinogenic.

In a shout out to the Plaintiff attorney teams, Baumann speaks with feigned sadness that their accusations are deeply upsetting for his colleagues. “They are mothers, fathers, people committed to helping our society.” This brings to mind the committed Donna Farmer, telling a young family friend that it is fine to strap on a Roundup backpack and spray without protection. I wonder if she would strap on that Roundup backpack.

Baumann segues into a story about travelling with a new colleague in the US who had sold glyphosate to farms for over 35 years. Apparently, he had become such close friends with the farmers that he even went to some family weddings. Baumann retells that this sales rep is quite distraught that people could believe that he would knowingly expose his friends to cancer. “What kind of people do they think we are?”

The story is interesting, because there is certainly a good chance that this salesperson is a true believer in both his long-time employer and glyphosate. Such a person can’t conceive that Monsanto would lie to him about glyphosate’s carcinogenicity. Because it would be abhorrent to do so.

Oh, and did you know that there is “tremendous importance” for glyphosate use in sustainable agriculture and in providing food to a growing population? This moment feels very similar to that of the Vietnam war quote: “We had to destroy the village in order to save it.” Or in this case, “We had to poison the people in order to feed them.”  

The rest of the talk provides nothing particularly new, just the reinforcement of status quo:

  • The regulatory authorities and their in-house assessments of glyphosate carcinogenicity differed from the verdicts. But “However exaggerated it may be, the unsettling effect is understandable.”
  • There is no single final judgement and both Johnson and Hardeman will be appealed. Baumann remains optimistic that the higher courts will reach different verdicts: “We are working relentlessly to successfully defend ourselves.” The attorneys do indeed look tired.
  • He calls for decisions based on INDEPENDENT authorities instead of emotions. He feels sorry for the regulatory authorities because these emotions harm their credibility. The only authority that based their evaluation on independent, peer-reviewed science is IARC!

Oh, and Bayer is proudly committed to acting with full transparency – and get this:

The live stream is cutoff as not to broadcast the complaints and concerns of the shareholder attendees.

Awesome transparency.

Update on Shareholder Vote

FRANKFURT (Reuters) – Bayer shareholders on Friday cast a vote of disapproval of the German drugmaker’s top management amid anger over a stock price slump as litigation risks mount from the $63 billion takeover of seed maker Monsanto.

A Bayer spokesman said a majority of shareholders at its annual general meeting voted against ratifying the board’s business conduct during 2018.

Such a vote features prominently at every German AGM. It is largely symbolic because it has no bearing on management’s liability or tenure but it is seen as a key gauge of investor sentiment.

Bayer’s non-executive supervisory board, in turn, won a majority of the votes ratifying its business conduct during 2018, the spokesman said.

Link

Further Reading

Reuters: Bayer Shareholders Vent Ire Over Monsanto-linked Stock Rout

The Wall Street Journal: Bayer CEO Faces Shareholder Ire over Monsanto Deal

Back again soon with the trial continuation!

5 Comments

  1. now we are over 13,000 people with cancer.
    and it dawned on me, what happens when other countries file claims ?
    good luck to everyone that are sick because of this product, but i do not see how any of us will
    get compensation over the suits. they will be long gone !

  2. Can you put a few pics up of the dogs ? Names too . Thanks ! .

    Funny how they cut the feed on the transparent meeting.

  3. Disclosure — I serve as an expert witness for plaintiffs in the Roundup-NHL litigation. A wise Congressman I worked for in the 1980s, George Brown of CA, often said that acknowledging the existence of a problem is a necessary step in solving it. Bayer and all other defenders-of-Roundup need to acknowledge the real problem driving the NHL litigation — small-scale, home, and occupational applications of Roundup using handheld, backpack, ATV, and truck mounted equipment. All the talk re feeding the world is not just technically incorrect, it is largely irrelevant. The risk assessments done by EPA, EFSA, Canada etc on IT&O uses and applications, and the sometimes very-high exposures they lead to, do not pass the laugh test, because, in general, they simply do not exist. If Bayer wants to save Roundup for the planet’s large-scale GMO farmers, it is going to have to deal with the IT&O uses that have, and continue to lead to much higher applicator exposures, and tragically, NHL in some people. It also has some near-impossible explaining to do people living and using their Roundup products in North America. E.g., wait until shareholders realize the need to ask Chairman Baumann why the Roundup products now sold in Europe are far less toxic and dangerous for IT&O users than the products on the market in the US and Canada. Good luck spinning that answer.

    1. the ignorance of the EPA to RU is very concerning . Thanks for getting the word out on that . Especially the fact that we are being played by Monsanto in that regard while they use a less toxic cocktail elsewhere. Weeds and crops are the same everywhere . For the most part , so why the extra toxic cocktail for the US ? Pathetic. .

  4. As always GG you excel – I’m sure there’s future for you, but I’m not too sure whether the others will find a happy ending.
    It it is beginning to look like a fairy story _
    So you look in the mirror and say “I look pretty”. And then you ask a couple of friends if you look pretty and they agree with you. So you publish their comments, and lobby a lot. And lo and behold even the Canadians say you look pretty. Well if they are saying it – we must be pretty, and we’ll carry on going to court, until we run out of carriages, ‘cos the rest of you just don’t know prettiness when it hits in you in the face.

GG loves comments!! Let me know your thoughts!