In April 2019 Ethical Consumer searched Bayer’s website, www.bayer.com, for information about its environmental reporting and practices. The Sustainability section of the website was viewed.

The company discussed health, agriculture, greenhouse gas emissions, waste, water, bees, sustainable agriculture and resource and energy efficiency. Overall the company was felt to have a reasonable understanding of its key environmental impacts.

In regard to environmental data, it presented emissions data, including direct and indirect green house gases; volatile organic compounds; total phosphorous in waste water; total nitrogen in waste water; total organic compounds. Bayer also presented waste data, including hazardous waste generated and landfilled. And resource use, including water use, primary energy consumption and secondary energy consumption.

A few environmental reduction targets were presented, including:
- Improvement of 10% in Group-wide energy efficiency by 2020. Reference year 2012: 3.50 Mwh/t
- Reduction of 20% in Group-wide specific greenhouse gas emissions by 2020. Reference year 2012: 0.98 t CO2/t
- By 2017 establishment of water management at all sites in water-scarce areas (35 sites)

No clear statement could be found that the data presented was independently verified.

Overall Bayer received Ethical Consumer’s middle rating for Environmental Reporting.

Reference:

Bayer website (29 May 2019)

In May 2019 Ethical Consumer searched the Bayer website for the company's policy on the use of the hazardous chemicals parabens, triclosan and phthalates.

Some forms or uses of these chemicals are banned or restricted in the EU or the USA.

Triclosan is an antibacterial and is a suspected endocrine disruptor. Parabens are also endocrine disruptors and have been linked to breast cancer and are used as preservatives. Phthalates, usually DEP or DBP, are used in fragrances and are endocrine disruptors.

A strong policy on toxics would be no use of these chemicals or clear, dated targets for ending their use.
Nothing could be found that specifically mentioned these three chemicals.

Therefore the company received Ethical Consumer's worst rating on toxics.

Reference:

Bayer website (29 May 2019)

In an article dated 11 September 2015, the International Business Times reported on a Reuters article which said that Monsanto, the world's largest seed company, had been found liable for of chemical poisoning of a French farmer by a French court that week. The decision by an appeal court in Lyon in southeast France upheld a 2012 ruling in which the farmer claimed he suffered neurological problems after working with the U.S. company's Lasso weedkiller, Reuters reported.

The court found Monsanto was "responsible" for the poisoning and ordered the company to "fully compensate" grain grower Paul Francois, who said he suffered memory loss, headaches and stammering after inhaling Monsanto's Lasso in 2004.

International Business Times added that other Monsanto herbicides had also been accused of being harmful. The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), part of the World Health Organization (WHO), said in March that the key ingredient in Monsanto's Roundup, one of the world's top-selling herbicides, was "probably carcinogenic to humans."

The farmer said Monsanto should have provided adequate warnings on the product label. Lasso was a popular herbicide used for decades to control grasses and broadleaf weeds in farm fields. It was outlawed in France in 2007 and had been banned in Canada, Belgium and Britain. Its spokesperson in France said it was no longer sold in the United States for commercial reasons.

In May, hundreds of protesters participated in the third annual March Against Monsanto event against the U.S. company’s sale of toxic chemicals.

Reference:

Monsanto Liable In Poisoning Farmer: Amid Global Protests Over Toxic Chemicals, French Court Rules A

The World Health Organization's cancer arm, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), said glyphosate was classified as 'probably carcinogenic to humans', according to an article published on 20 March 2015 on the Reuters website. Glyphosate was the active ingredient in Monsanto's herbicide Roundup, which was the world's most widely-used weed killer, manufactured by the world's largest seed company. More specifically, IARC said there was 'limited evidence' that glyphosate was carcinogenic in humans for non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
Monsanto's vice-president of global regulatory affairs questioned how IARC could reach a different conclusion from that reached by all other regulatory agencies. IARC's conclusion was drawn from studies of exposure, mostly agricultural, in the United States, Canada, and Sweden that were published since 2001. "The weed killer has been detected in food, water and in the air after it has been sprayed, according to the report from the WHO agency. However, glyphosate use is generally low in and near homes where the general public would face the greatest risk of exposure."
The article stated that glyphosate was mainly used on crops such as corn and soybeans that were genetically modified to survive it. The US government considered the herbicide safe. "In 2013, Monsanto requested and received approval from the US Environmental Protection Agency for increased tolerance levels for glyphosate." Yet concerns about glyphosate on food had remained and contributed to Vermont passing the country's first mandatory labelling law for foods that are genetically modified.

Reference:

Monsanto weed killer can 'probably' cause cancer: World Health Organization (20 March 2015)

On the 4 October 2016 Ethical Consumer viewed an article on the Guardian website called ‘Pesticide manufacturers' own tests reveal serious harm to honeybees’, published 22 September 2016. The article described how unpublished field trials by pesticide manufacturers had shown their products caused serious harm to honeybees at high levels; resulting in senior scientists calling for the companies to end the secrecy that hides their research.

The research was said to have been conducted by Syngenta and Bayer on their neonicotinoid insecticides. The research was said to have been submitted to the US Environmental Protection Agency and was obtained by Greenpeace after a freedom of information request.

The study showed how Bayer’s clothianidin seriously harmed bee colonies at high doses, but did not significantly effect bees below concentrations of 50 parts per billion (ppb) and 40ppb respectively. Such levels can sometimes be found in fields but concentrations are usually below 10ppb.

Ben Stewart from Greenpeace was quoted in the article stating: “If Bayer and Syngenta cared about the future of our pollinators, they would have made the findings public. Instead, they kept quiet about them for months and carried on downplaying nearly every study that questioned the safety of their products. It’s time for these companies to come clean about what they really know.”

Reference:

Pesticide manufacturers' own tests reveal serious harm to honeybees (22 September 2016)