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Bayer AG is a chemical and pharmaceutical giant founded in Barmen, Germany in 1863 by Friedrich Bayer and his partner, Johann Friedrich Weskott. Today it has its headquarters in Leverkusen, North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany. 

The merger between Bayer and Monsanto in June of 2018 led many commentators to say the German firm had sullied its reputation by taking over a company consistently shown in polls to be among the most hated in America. But Bayer's own corporate record also bears little scrutiny.

A look at the company's history may, in fact, help to explain how Bayer thought it could take over a firm up to its neck in controversies and court cases and just rebrand Monsanto's products as its own and rake in the profits. After all, as we shall see, for more than a century Bayer has been walking away from corporate crimes from which it has successfully profited.

The product that Bayer is perhaps most famous for is aspirin, which it trademarked in 1899. Bayer's official history has credited Felix Hoffmann with its invention in 1897. But according to Arthur Eichengrün, another chemist employed by Bayer at the time, he... see more