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The Ghost of IG Farben: Can Monsanto Reform Bayer?

By: 
Victor Grossman

Berlin.

The marriage of Monsanto with Bayer breaks records not only due to its size but because of its evil smell, and not only due to Monsanto’s reputation for deadly trails of everything from disappearing wild flowers and butterflies to poverty-stricken family farmers forced to buy its seeds and pesticides.

For Bayer, perhaps best known for its aspirins, so helpful ever since 1897, or other useful medicines, has a trail marked with death in far, far greater numbers. It was Bayer, together with two other chemical giants, BASF and Hoechst, which developed the terrible chlorine gas used in World War I. In 1925 the three formed a giant cartel, IG Farben (Joint Interest Association Dyes), which became the world’s leader in pharmaceutics, dyes and chemicals, often after deals with DuPont and Standard Oil.