BASF

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This article is part of the Food Rights Network, a project of the Center for Media and Democracy. Find out more here.

This article is part of the Center for Media & Democracy's spotlight on global corporations.

BASF SE is the world's largest chemical company and is headquartered in Ludwigshafen, Germany. Its North American subsidiary is BASF Corporation. BASF has around 95,000 employees on five continents.[1] It is one of the "Big 6" Biotech Corporations, along with Bayer, Dupont, Dow Chemical Company, Syngenta, and Monsanto (so called because they dominate the agricultural input market -- that is, they own the world’s seed, pesticide and biotechnology industries).[2][3]Yahoo Finance states, "The company has six business segments: chemicals (basic, intermediate, and performance), plastics (thermoplastics, foams, and urethanes), coatings (automotive and coil coatings), fine chemicals (vitamins, feed supplements, and raw materials for pharmaceuticals), agricultural chemicals (herbicides, insecticides), and BASF Plant Science (biotechnology)."

Top competitors are The Dow Chemical Company, DuPont, and Monsanto. [4]

Political influence

Lobbying

2012 Lobbying Data

Lobbying Firm Amount Reported Issues
BASF Corporation $730,000 S. 847, Safe Chemical Act bill on chemical regulation reform, all provisions of the legislation
JMB Associates $90,000 Trade, Energy, Environmental policy, Appropriations, transportation
Tom Coleman & Associates $150,000 In support of reauthorization of the Chemical Facilities Anti-Terrorism Security Act, In support of the process to provide for a Miscellaneous Tariff Bill. No specific bill.

The company spent $1.34 million in direct lobbying costs in 2011 focusing on deregulation and patents of genetically modified organisms, federal chemical policy reform, and pesticide applications near waterways. It spent $380,000 in the first 3 months of 2012.[5]

One of the corporation's 4 lobbyists is Tom Coleman, a former congressman and was a ranking member of the House Ag Committee.[6]

BASF spent $1,034,985 for lobbying in the U.S. in 2007. In-house lobbyists were used as well as the lobbying firms Tom Coleman Associates and Rick Carne Consulting.[7]

The corporate website gives its position on lobbying:

"One of the tasks of the political process is to shape the basic conditions for how companies operate. Ultimately, this also determines their success. Our key message to politicians is that they ensure that these conditions promote competitiveness and innovation because BASF and its customers need to be competitive and innovative in order to remain successful."[8]

It goes on to talk about political influence in Europe in question and answer format:

Q: Does BASF pay off public officials?

A: No. BASF does not make grants to politicians. The alleged ‘German politicians on BASF’s payroll’ are for the most part employees volunteering for public service in their spare time. Currently there are more than 350 of them just in Ludwigshafen.

Q: EU (European Union) Commission employees switched to jobs in industry, while industry employees transferred to the Commission. A BASF employee was also involved in such a reassignment ...

A: European and national authorities employ thousands of experts, some long-term, others for limited periods of time. These experts are drawn from universities, companies but also from industrial and environmental organizations. For many years an employee was responsible for product safety issues at BASF. He decided in 2001 to take a job with the Directorate General of the EU Commission. Since 2005 he has again been working for us in Ludwigshafen. During his time away he was not paid by BASF, nor was he active for BASF.

Q: Mr. Schwanhold, you, too, have been engaged in political life, serving once as Minister of Economics of the State of North Rhine-Westphalia ...

A: That’s true; nor is it a secret. You serve as Minister only for a limited period and there has to be a professional life outside the political sphere. There are many examples of such careers. I believe it makes sense for an Economics Minister to know, based on his own experience, what makes a company tick. The same applies in reverse.[9]

Political Action Committee

As of June 30, 2012, BASF Corporation Employees Political Action Committee, a PAC funded by employee contributions, has raised $483,916 and spent $264,736 for 2012 elections.[10]

As of May 2008, for the 2008 U.S. election, BASF gave $68,000 - 34% to Democrats and 66% to Republicans.[11]

For the 2006 U.S. election, BASF gave $151,000 through its political action committee - 11% to Democrats and 88% to Republicans.[12]

Genetic modification

An article in The Independent, October 28, 2007, describes the peculiar fawning attitude by British authorities for the GM giant, BASF:

"documents show that ministers have been far from even-handed. One set, obtained by the campaigning group GM Freeze, clearly demonstrate that the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) allowed the biotech giant BASF to help to set the conditions for field trials it has conducted on modified potatoes. On 1 December last year the company was given permission to plant 450,000 modified potatoes in British fields over the next five years, in a series of 10 trials. The set of emails and letters between Defra and the company reveal that officials repeatedly went to remarkable lengths to make sure the trial conditions, supposed to protect the environment and farmers, were "agreeable" to BASF."[13]

"BASF said the potato field trial had received consent from the Government and was being carried out in strict accordance with the regulations laid down.... 'When approval for a field trial project is granted by the authorities in charge, this approval confirms that the tested crops are safe to be planted using the management procedures to be followed during the trial'"[14]

Overview & history

BASF, WWII & Auschwitz

During WWI, Bayer had a close association with other German chemical companies, including BASF and Hoechst (now Sanofi-Aventis). This relationship led to the 1925 with merger of these companies, as well as AGFA, and others, to form IG Farben Trust in 1925.[15] Auschwitz was the largest mass extermination factory in human history. However, few people are aware that Auschwitz was a 100% subsidiary of IG Farben. On April 14, 1941, in Ludwigshafen, Otto Armbrust, the IG Farben board member responsible for the Auschwitz project, stated to board colleagues:

"our new friendship with the SS is a blessing. We have determined all measures integrating the concentration camps to benefit our company."

Thousands of prisoners died during human experiments, drug and vaccine testing. Before longtime Bayer employee and SS Auschwitz doctor Helmut Vetter was executed for administering fatal infections, he wrote to his bosses at Bayer headquarters:

"I have thrown myself into my work wholeheartedly. Especially as I have the opportunity to test our new preparations. I feel like I am in paradise."

After WWII, I.G. Farben attempted to shake its abominable image through corporate restructuring and renaming. So great has been their success that the public has no idea that it many of the men responsible for such atrocities, were able to carry on their work even after the collapse of the Nazi regime. Namely a medical paradigm that relies almost exclusively highly toxic drugs. Such men were in control of the large chemical and pharmaceutical companies, both well before and after Hitler. The Nuremberg Tribunal convicted 24 IG Farben board members and executives on the basis of mass murder, slavery and other crimes. Incredibly, most of them had been released by 1951 and continued to consult with German corporations. The Nuremberg Tribunal dissolved the IG Farben into Bayer, Hoechst and BASF, each company 20 times as large as IG Farben in 1944. For almost three decades after WWII, BASF, Bayer and Hoechst (Aventis) filled its highest position, chairman of the board, with former members of the Nazi regime. [16] See also Bayer.

Personnel

Key executives: [17]

Board of Directors: [18]

Contact details

German headquarters:
Carl-Bosch Strasse 38
Ludwigshafen, Germany
Phone: +49-621-60-0
Fax: +49-621-60-425-25
Web: http://www.basf.com

U.S. office:
100 Campus Drive
Florham Park, NJ 07932
Phone: 973-245-6000
Fax: 973-245-6714

Resources

Related SourceWatch articles

External articles

External resources

References

  1. About page, BASF, accessed May 2008.
  2. Pesticide Action Network of North America, Chemical Cartel, organizational website, accessed July 2012
  3. ETC Group, Who Owns Nature? Corporate Power and the Final Frontier in the Commodification of Life, international civil society organizational report, November 2008, accessed July 2012
  4. BASF Profile, Yahoo Finance, accessed May 2008.
  5. BASF lobbying expenses, Open Secrets, Accessed July 18, 2012
  6. Lobbyists representing BASF, Open Secrets, Accessed July 18, 2012
  7. BASF lobbying expenses, Open Secrets, accessed May 2008.
  8. Lobbying, BASF, accessed May 2008.
  9. Political consulting, BASF, accessed May 2008.
  10. BASF lobbying expenses, Open Secrets, Accessed July 18, 2012
  11. 2008 PAC Summary Data, Open Secrets, accessed May 2008.
  12. 2006 PAC Summary Data, Open Secrets, accessed May 2008.
  13. Jonathan Owen, "GM: The Secret Files", The Independent, October 28, 2007.
  14. Alistair Driver, "Protestors Shut Down Biotech Company Headquarters in Europe", Organic Consumers Association, May 6, 2008.
  15. Hermann Levy Industrial Germany: A study of its Monopoly Organisations and their Control by the State, pg. 65-66, Routledge, November 4 1966, (first published, 1935), ISBN 978-0714613369
  16. Mark Sircus Pharmaceutical Terrorism: The Backbone of Modern Medicine, rawfoodinfo.com, accessed March 2010
  17. BASF Key Executives, Yahoo Finance, accessed May 2008.
  18. Board of Directors, BASF, accessed May 2008.