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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.
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 2019 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.
|FTSE4Good Environmental Leaders Europe 40||Europe|
|MSCI ACWI Low Carbon Target Index||World|
|STOXX® Europe Sustainability||Europe|
|STOXX® Global ESG Impact||World|
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.
Recognition of our efforts to protect the climate
Climate protection is a pressing issue that we at Bayer attach great importance to. Since end of 2019 we have embarked on an ambitious climate strategy and taken immediate actions. Guiding principle for us is to act in line with the Paris agreement. With our ambitious 2030 emission reduction targets, the Net Zero 2050 target, the additional target that addresses GHG reduction on farmer’s fields as well as our carbon farming activities we want to contribute noticeably to climate change mitigation and do our part to meet the UN SDGs.
The investor-led Climate Action 100+ initiative (CA 100+) has recently published a Net-Zero Company Benchmark, which does not fully reflect our activities and targets. In the following we would like to illustrate key issues in the benchmark and thereby clarify matters regarding the status quo of climate action at Bayer:
Net-Zero GHG Emissions by 2050: Bayer has set a Net Zero 2050 target including the entire supply chain and joined the Business Ambition for 1.5°C. Despite having signed and communicated this ambition the benchmark rates us as not having a Net Zero ambition.
Long Term Target 2036-2050: Despite the Net Zero commitment of Bayer and having published even the full details on Scope 3 in CDP the Benchmark rates Bayer as having no long-term target.
Medium term (2026-2035) GHG Target: Bayer has set itself an intermediate target in line with 1.5°C pathway until 2029 that is confirmed by the Science Based Target initiative (SBTi).
Despite having a SBTi validated target for all three scopes including the most relevant categories in Scope 3, the Corporate Benchmark rates Scope 3 as not fulfilled.
Short term (2020-2025) GHG Target: Despite having quantitatively anchored our Sustainability and Climate Targets in the Long Term Incentive (2021-2024) of our management including the board and communicated upon, the benchmark evaluates Bayer as having no target.
Decarbonization Strategy: Bayer has published a decarbonization strategy to source 100% renewable energy by 2030 and decarbonize our operations. We expect to invest 500 million Euro CAPEX over the next 10 years for the emission reduction additional to the changes to renewable energy. Despite all the mentioned topics we are rated as having no decarbonization strategy.
Capital allocation alignment: Despite introducing a carbon price of 100€/t for investments, the benchmark rates Bayer as having no capital allocation alignment.
As confirmation of our efforts we recently received an A rating from CDP for our climate activities. You can find more information on our climate strategy in our recently published 2020 Annual Report, the 2020 Sustainability Report as well as in the TCFD Report on https://www.bayer.com/en/media/sustainability-reports and on our political positions website https://www.bayer.com/en/commitments/political-principles-and-positions.
Environmental questions regarding GMO (Genetically Modified Organism) crops.
Some rating agencies have claimed that GMOs are harmful to the environment and have classified this as 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
The health of honey bees has been a concern over the past few decades for a multitude of reasons. In 2008, a severe incident with a large number of honey bee colonies occurred when seeds were incorrectly treated with a neonicotinoid. Since this event, numerous additional actions were taken to successfully ensure that this would never happen again. Claims that neonicotinoids are responsible for the impaired health of honey bees are not supported by the weight of the scientific evidence – and there’s plenty of evidence available.
Neonicotinoids are safe to honey bee colonies and populations of other pollinator species when applied correctly. This has been proven by numerous studies under realistic conditions which reflect agricultural practice. No systematic correlation between honey bee mortality or the decline of wild pollinators on one, and the exposure of neonicotinoids on the other hand has been found in any study which was conducted on agreed standards.
There are various studies of academic researchers that have been published in the last years which describe adverse effects of neonicotinoids to pollinators; however, most of these studies have been conducted with very high doses of the substances which do not represent realistic exposure conditions, so that they are not reflecting what is happening in the field.
In 2013 and later in 2018, three neonicotinoids (imidacloprid, thiamethoxam, and clothianidin) were largely banned in the EU on the basis of evaluations of the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA). These evaluations had been conducted using a new, proposed risk assessment guidance document which is still controversially debated as it requires experimental study designs which are almost impossible to fulfill (e.g. 450 km2 field size for 1 honey bee field study). Therefore, this new risk assessment approach is, six years after its publication, still not officially implemented in the EU, and the authorities of various member states are refusing its implementation. Therefore, recently, the EU Commission has mandated a revision of the proposed guidance document.
Although the new guidance document has not been approved by the EU Member States and has not been officially implemented, the neonicotinoids have been regulated according to this approach (in contrast to most other products being registered in the EU).
When the neonicotinoids were introduced in the early 1990s, they were considered as a significant improvement as they helped to replace older classes of insecticides (organophosphates, carbamates) which exhibited a very high toxicity to humans and the environment.
For a reference please see the conclusion of the Australian government: https://apvma.gov.au/sites/default/files/publication/18541-neonicotinoids_overview_report_february_2014.pdf
No country outside of Europe has adopted the EU restrictions for the use of neonicotinoids. In most countries around the world, neonicotinoids are still registered and used without major restrictions, partly after recent re-evaluations. However, regulatory review is ongoing in several countries and regions.
The Precautionary Principle is supposed to be applied in cases where data are deficient. However, neonicotinoids are probably the best-studied insecticides worldwide, and at Bayer, pollinator safety testing has been integrated in the very early research phases to ensure our products maximize benefits to society, farmers and the environment.
See our brochure: BEEINFOrmed N°8_2019
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.