brief history of the last 20 years of bayer. bayer, a chemical conglomerate, trades back and forth with volkswagen and daimler for claim to the largest german manufacturing company. in the early oughties it split into 3 divisions: cropsci (pesticides), healthcare (pharma), and material science (polymers). it split because pharma laid a rotten egg in the form of Baycol, which killed around 100,000 people. Baycol was supposed to compete with other statins and succeeded in the sense that indeed fewer patients died from cardiac arrest than from kidney failure. it tanked the stock so hard late-2002 that there was fear that the whole company would get swallowed up. to limit liability it split itself into those 3 divisions, with a small corporate engineering team handling shared functions.
a few years ago bayer spun off polymers as covestro, its major plants in wuppertal, leverkusen, baytown texas, new martinsville, and some spots in china. all of these are environmental sacrifice zones destined to be rare, non-military superfunds. the baytown site is consistently ranked the #1 polluter in the whole baytown-la porte gulf chemical corridor. if you drive I-10 or US-146 thru this industrial cluster, its cylinder skyline of distillation columns, flare stacks and scaffolds, all linked together in pipeline and rail networks, remember that there's a biggest polluter and it is bayer. the pesticide division, now spun off to BASF according to WaPo, is another huge liability. it's got major sites in institute, WV, KCMO, and davis CA. what polymers and pesticides have in common is high energy, high pressure, high risk, commodity chemistry. because of the technology's age and TRPF they live on the razor's edge of profitability. after 150 years in basic chemistry, bayer is now banking on pharma and GMOs, trading the old capital for monsanto's glyphosate GMO line.
the WV cropsci site nearly bhopal'd the capital of west virginia. i mean it literally: the site was a duplicate union carbide acquisition, they had an explosion that killed 2 workers right next to a methyl isocyanate reactor. the reactor didn't go, like in bhopal, but the community wasn't taking it and got a judge to shutter about 3/4 of the site. the KCMO site is responsible, along with agriculture land transformation, for the death of the bee and other insect life, as part of one of earth's largest mass extinctions of invertebrates, manufacturing neonicotinoid pesticide (under the trade name Poncho). i almost died like 3 times at that site: 1000# chlorine gas leak, followed a week later by a 3000# carbon disulfide leak (more explosive than hydrogen gas! the wind was blowing away from the plant center that day, otherwise i'd be dead. a rat's fart can ignite a cloud of CS2, then set off the plant-wide explosion chain), and then another chlorine leak. those are gas leaks, but there are plenty of liquid leaks too, which flow into a 4' moat-trench surrounding the site, which flows into the blue river, which flows into the missouri river. cropsci is a total duct tape and baling wire operation and if OSHA 1910.119 was actually enforced they'd have had to pay BASF to take them. the plants are bombs without visible timers. they're metal predators with secret mouths that spray workers with exotic digestive fluids, before consumption.
before the 90s, bayer, because it was hitler's #1 campaign contributor and ran kamps for labor and medical experimentation, was restricted in the use of its trade name. it linked up with monsanto in the 70s-80s as 'Mobay' to co-construct some polymer plants down in the chemical corridor. it made good use of this brand feint and in pharma, with cutter labs, it got by with deliberately spreading the AIDS virus into the 3rd world. when they want to get out of paying settlements to survivors they claim their name wasn't on the building at the time. there's a cottage excuse that they did it for profit, except they stood to gain almost no money (equivalent to a few hours production) by selling that AIDS blood, forcibly drawn from arkansas prisoners. who could say why a company with bayer's eugenics history would want to shrink an otherwise very profitable consumer base suffering recessive genetic problems.
the broader chemical industry is consolidating. like WaPo deigns to notice, Mobay now competes with Dow + Rohm and Haas + DuPont, and ChemChina + Syngenta, which all merged in the last decade or so. they also compete with the vertically-integrated major oil+gas petrochem operations, from which they buy their raw material, mainly methane and ethane gas, and coal for their boilers. what we're seeing in the chemical industry, cross-imperial merger (US-EU, etc) bolsters the basic theoretical division between global north and south. global north ownership and cooperation, to squeeze as much as it can from the global south -- raw materials (natural gas, salts, steel), labor in the plants, and through FDI, land destruction. if you look around the room you're in, take note all the colors from dyes, the variety of plastics, the paints, the liquid crystal molecules in your screen, medications... chemistry has become a foundational, department 1 industry within the past century. with these M&A's it presents a united front to the rest of the bourgeoisie. it's not gone unnoticed that the chemical industry is responsible for nearly every major earthly challenge to class reproduction, from the nitrogen-suffocating dead oceans to climate change to acid rain, to loss of topsoil and pesticide loading, to microplastics, to all the ones we haven't discovered yet. the working class is in strategic position to recognize and act on this too, leave the plants, and let them rust. there is no future for either class with these machines in operation. chemical production must be fundamentally re-thought, de-commodified, and re-built, through socialist construction and the scientific creativity of the masses.