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Bayer Annual Stockholders’ Meeting at WCCB: Demonstrators protest against Monsanto

Bayer Annual Stockholders’ Meeting at WCCB : Demonstrators protest against Monsanto

Around 250 people are expected to protest as part of the group “Stop Bayer/Monsanto” on Friday in a demonstration in front of the World Conference Center Bonn (WCCB).

Demonstrators from the group “Stop Bayer/Monsanto” are protesting against the Bayer AG acquisition of Monsanto, the controversial American seed and crop protection chemical manufacturer. Leverkusen-based Bayer AG is having its Annual Stockholders’ Meeting at the WCCB in Bonn.

Protestors had originally planned to stand in front of the WCCB entrance but they were turned down by authorities. “Stop Bayer/Monsanto” then filed an urgent appeal because of the police order banning them from United Nations Place in front of the WCCB. They also appealed the city decision to allow the area to be cordoned off. The Administrative Court in Cologne dismissed both appeals.

The demonstrators are protesting against Bayer's business policy and the planned takeover of the controversial American seed and crop protection company Monsanto. About 3,500 Bayer AG shareholders are gathering for their Annual Shareholders’ Meeting on Friday in the conference hall of the WCCB.

Protestors allowed to bring vehicles, banners and loudspeakers

Last week, police had informed the group that they would not be allowed to gather at the entrance of the WCCB because of security. At that time, police issued a ban. The reason was because Bayer planned to set up a tent in front of the entrance to carry out security checks on those coming in to the meeting. Because of that, the City of Bonn had granted Bayer permission to block off the public square in front of the WCCB. The protest group was offered by police to take their demonstration a little further south but they rejected this offer and filed a complaint instead.

Stefanie Seifert of the Administrative Court in Cologne said the decision of the court was based on, among other things, the security of the shareholders. As well, the demonstrators had been offered an alternative location by the police, and that location was also visible and audible for the shareholders.

Bayer CEO talks to shareholders

While environmentalists and conservationists demonstrate against the takeover with slogans such as "BaySanto stoppen" (Stop BaySanto) or "Vielfalt fördern und Marktmacht stoppen” (Promote Diversity and Stop Market Power", Bayer CEO Werner Baumann justified the 66 billion euro deal on Friday as a long-term measure which would bring value. Baumann explained the advantages of the planned deal to the company's owners: The takeover of Monsanto was a perfect fit for their strategy, he emphasized.

Together with the U.S. company, Bayer could help secure the food supply for the growing world population. The planned acquisition is currently in the hands of a large number of antitrust authorities. Bayer plans to submit the application for approval to the EU Commission during the second quarter.

(Orig. text: lis/dom, with material from dpa)