Bayer denies culpability for pesticide deaths in Peru

31 October 2001 19:05 Source:ICIS News

LONDON (CNI)--German chemicals and pharmaceuticals giant Bayer insisted on Wednesday that it was not responsible for the deaths of 24 children in Peru who died two years ago after drinking a powdered milk substitute accidentally contaminated with the organophosphate pesticide methyl parathion.

Its denial was issued after a pressure group, coalition against Bayer dangers (CBG), said in a statement to CNI that relatives of the children had brought a lawsuit this week linking the company with the deaths.

CBG has charged that Bayer widely promoted its methyl parathion formulation, known as Folidol, throughout Peru without properly alerting users to the product's risks to human health and the environment. The lawsuit, added the CBG, also named the Peruvian Ministry of Agriculture for failure to enforce Peruvian pesticide regulations.

A spokesman for Bayer said today that the company was not aware a lawsuit had been served. However, he reiterated to CNI that its product could not have been the source of the tragedy.

"Bayer withdrew from the market all products which contained this substance since 1993."

The spokesman insisted that its products had been sold in clearly and properly labelled bags. "We were not responsible for this tragedy."

By Neil Sinclair