Monsanto in court
by Karin Heinze (comments: 0)
Picture: "We are fed up"-Demo 2016 in Berlin: "Go - Round up yourself Monsanto" protester had written on their poster. Photo © Karin Heinze
Tribunals are set up to deal with serious crimes, to indict people guilty of crimes against humanity and to punish them. In the middle of October the Monsanto Tribunal will be held in The Hague. For three days, this symbolic citizens' court will hear plaintiffs from all over the world present a summary of the offences committed by Monsanto. The aim is to get the criminal offence of ecocide recognised in international law. Taking place in parallel, the People´s Assembly will work on devising strategies and concepts for conserving resources and ensuring a viable future.
16 October is World Food Day. This is the day on which the Monsanto Tribunal will finish. For three days it will gather together the accusations against the US-American corporation that produces chemicals and genetically modified seed. The company in St. Louis, Missouri, has existed for 115 years. It has branches in over 60 countries and employs more than 22,000 people worldwide.
Monsanto has a hugely negative reputation and everywhere in the world people go onto the streets to protest against its products, that are a danger to health and the environment, and against the unscrupulous behaviour of the company. A lot of campaigns have been launched against its products – for example, the pesticide Roundup and the active ingredient glyphosate and genetically modified seed (cotton, maize, rape): “Millions Against Monsanto“, “March Against Monsanto“ and “We've had enough“ are the means by which hundreds of thousands of people in many countries all over the world express their opposition to Monsanto.
Picture: Demo-2016 in Berlin - Monsanto is a symbol of the madness of agribusiness. Photo © Karin Heinze
The author and filmmaker Marie-Monique Robin, who has agitated with her books and films “Monsanto, Poison & Genes“ and “Our Daily Poison“, said: “It's high time to call the firm to account.“ She said the aim of the Tribunal is an exemplary judgement “since Monsanto is certainly not the only company to threaten the safety of the planet and its people. Defending the Earth concerns us all,“ she, as the inspiration behind the Monsanto Tribunal, explains and calls on all of us to support her.“
Criminal offence ecocide
The aim of the Monsanto Tribunal, that was launced on the periphery of the climate conference in Paris in December 2015, is to hold the company accountable for a long list of crimes against people and the environment. Marie-Monique Robin: “With this extraordinary Tribunal we want to say that it's gone far enough! Life has greater value than money and profit. Moreover, the crime of ecocide should be incorporated into international law.
The fact is that since the beginning of the twntieth century Monsanto has been manufacturing and marketing toxic products that have caused and are causing damage to health and even the death of thousands of people and are responsible for permanently damaging the environment. Examples and further information can be found on the website of the Monsanto Tribunal:
- PCB (polychlorinated biphenyl), one of the 12 long-life pollutants officially banned or restricted in the Stockholm Agreement of 2001 (POP-Convention). It has an adverse effect on human and animal fertility. (https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stockholmer_%C3%9Cbereinkommen)
- 2,4,5 T-acid (2,4,5-Trichlorphenoxy acetic acid), a dioxin-containing component of the defoliant Agent Orange, that was used by the American army during the Vietnam war and is still causing birth defects and cancer today.
- Alachlor, brand name Lasso, a herbicide now banned in Europe.
Roundup, the most used pesticide worldwide, that has now become a political issue. This highly toxic herbicide is used large-scale in combination with genetically modified seed - so-called “Roundup Ready“ seed – and is suspected of causing cancer and birth defects.
Monsanto stands for environmentally damaging agro-industry and concealment
The website of the Monsanto Tribunal also tells us that at least a third of the anthropogenic CO2 emissions worldwide are caused by industrial agriculture. It says that this form of agriculture is reponsible to a large extent for the decline in soil fertility and groundwater reserves, for the loss of biodiversity and the extinction of species, as well as the displacement of millions of small farmers round the globe. “By patenting living creatures and seed, this model is a threat to the food sovereignty of us all.“ All this is still not enough. The corporation denies it has caused damage and it has been shown to do its utmost to uphold the “Monsanto system“. Thus it was revealed, for example, that they put pressure on independent scientists and fraudulent “scientific“ studies were published. And they go as far as manipulating authorities, politicians and the press.
The Monsanto Tribunal
In The Hague around 20 plaintiffs from America, Europe, Asia and Africa, accompanied by experienced lawyers, will testify before prestigious attorneys and judges from five continents who will then draw up a legal opinion based on the procedures of the International Court. In keeping with the general principles of civil procedure law, the indicted company, Monsanto, will be invited to present its case. The Tribunal is based on the UN “Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights“ issued in 2011.
Three internationally recognised judges will be jointly in charge of the “citizens' court“: Dior Fall Sow (Senegal), the former Attorney General of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda; Francoise Tulkens (Belgium), the former Vice-president of the European Court of Human Rights, and Upendra Baxi (India), the former President of the Indian Society of International Law. Two of the lawyers for the prosecution have also been named: Dr. Jackson Nyamuya Maogoto (UK) will raise the issue in the case against Monsanto of whether the comany was implicated in war crimes according to Article 8, Paragraph 2 of the statute for the International Criminal Court. Dr. Gwynn MacCarrick will present the issue of ecocide. This lawyer and legal expert will investigate whether the past and current activities of Monsanto can be called “ecocide“, the cause of severe damage to the environment, global common goods and eco systems.
Among the initiators of the Tribunal are the umbrella organisation IFOAM International Organics, Navdanya, the organisation of the Indian eco activist and winner of the Alternative Nobel Prize Vandana Shiva, the well supported American Organic Consumers Association (OCA) and NGOs active all round the globe.
Ronnie Cummins (Photo © Karin Heinze), Director of the OCA and Via Organica (Mexico) explains:
“An international court (of all citizens) prosecuting Monsanto for its crimes against humanity and the environment is long overdue.“
Concepts for a future worth living
At the same time, the so-called People´s Assembly will be held with the aim of jointly devising strategies and concepts for preserving the fundamentals of our planet and ensuring a viable future. NGOs and private individuals wanting to make a contribution are invited. This initiative is dependent on the support of the people. The budget for preparing and running the Tribunal from 14 to 16 October 2016 in The Hague (Netherlands) is estimated to be half a million euros. The initiators of the Monsanto Tribunal are appealing to people across the whole world to support this unique initiative through a crowdfunding campaign and to spread the word among friends and via social media.
Donations are administered by the the foundation “Monsanto Tribunal“ domiciled in Amsterdam