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Monsanto in trouble
by Karin Heinze (comments: 0)
Clown with a true message at the Monsanto Tribunal / People´s Assembly showing how Monsanto works. (Photo © Karin Heinze)
Over 1.3 million EU citizens say: ban glyphosate
The US seed-& pesticide corporation Monsanto is in trouble. There are many reasons. Among others, the authorization of Monsanto’s flagship the weedkiller Roundup and its ingredient glyphosate is expiring in the EU by the end of this year. Plus more and more weeds are resistant to the pesticide. Monsanto’s ‘solution’ to this problem, another very toxic herbicide called Dicamba, turns out to be a complete failure. The Monsanto Tribunal last fall in The Hague and court cases have been exposing the way Monsanto works. The legal opinion of the Monsanto Tribunal has been spread to all corners of the world by social and official media, inspiring victims of pesticide use and more consumers to show the true cost of Monsanto’s business.
What happened after the Tribunal throughout 2017? Glyphosate, active ingredient of Roundup, has created a huge discussion. Over 1.3 million EU citizens have signed an official request to ban glyphosate, to reform the pesticide approval procedure, and to set EU-wide mandatory reduction targets for pesticide use. Also the Monsanto Bayer merger is under investigation. There has been a lot of public pressure on the merger authorities to prevent the Bayer – Monsanto merger. Too much power, bad for farmers and consumers is the general opinion. But the EU Commission has now launched an in-depth investigation.
Food: 53% contain glyphosate residues
According to Monsanto Tribunal, the French organisation Générations Futures conducted tests on food products found in supermarkets. They found out that 53% of them contained glyphosate residues. Such results show the pervasive nature of glyphosate-containing herbicides. Combined with the important work of health and environmental organizations, they should carry weight on the debates over glyphosate re-authorization in the EU. Consumers’ groups have been conducting a series of tests with food products in the U.S. Glyphosate was found in many of them, including the famous ‘all natural’ Ben & Jerry’s ice creams, from the company Unilever. The Organic Consumers Association is now pushing the brand to go organic.
Protesters in The Hague at the Monsanto Tribunal last year accused Monsanto for ecocide. (Photo: © Karin Heinze)
MEPs investigate Monsanto´s business
The organizers of the Monsanto Tribunal that took place in October last year in The Hague (Netherlands), are keeping their supporters updated. In a recent newsletter they explained why the US pesticides and GM seeds corporation is in trouble. Additional to the Dicamba failure and the expiring authorisation, it is also fact that many policy makers slowly understand how Monsanto is working. On the 11th of October there was an official hearing in the EU Parliament. Monsanto has been invited but did not show up, nor BfR. As a consequence and for the first time the European Parliament decided to dispend Monsanto lobbyists from the Parliament building. Soon the EU member states will have to cast their vote for the final decision. One of the largest, France, has previously announced it would vote against the renewal of the license for glyphosate.
The outcomes of the hearing are a scandal. It came to light that chapters of Monsanto documents have been copied word for word by the German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) for their report to the European Food Safety Agency EFSA and sources have not been named. Harald Ebner, expert on agriculture and pesticides in the Green fraction of the German Bundestag, views the plagiarism allegation as being acknowledged by an expert assessment of Dr Stefan Weber. Ebner demands that a re-authorization of glyphosate based on a plagiarized risk evaluation must not be allowed.
British scientist and publisher of GM Watch Claire Robinson at the Monsanto Tribunal. (Photo: © Karin Heinze)
Monsanto´s business has reached the limits
In addition, 100,000 pages of documents (testimonies, unpublished studies, meeting minutes…) obtained through lawsuits against chemical companies and U.S. regulation agencies were collected by environmental activists. They were made publicly available through a project called the Poison Papers. "With such documents out, it becomes increasingly ‘difficult’ for companies like Monsanto to deny accusations of concealment, deception or collusion", explains the article.
Films and books are released and show that Monsanto´s products are even more dangerous than ever thought. Roundup on Trial is the new book (in French) from Marie-Monique Robin, that comes along with the movie Roundup the Trial (German, French, DVD in English). Marie-Monique Robin – maker of the brilliant documentary The World According to Monsanto – for several months followed Roundup victims and experts from all over the world, revealing a massive health and environmental scandal. The DVD version will also include English subtitles. Watch the trailer and order your copy."This provocative book and the film provides an understanding of the mechanisms of one of the greatest environmental and health scandals in modern history. But it also shows that, in the face of the powerlessness or the lack of will of international agencies and governments to end it, civil society is mobilizing", states MonsantoTribunal.org.
„All this indicates that Monsanto’s toxic agriculture and extortion have reached their limits. An ever-growing number of people understand that we can and have to feed the world without poisoning it. A recent UN Report denounced the myth that pesticides are necessary to feed the world. We should reward farmers and not exploit them, we can work with nature instead of waging a war against it.“, says the Monsanto Tribunal.
Lawyers giving their statement at the Monsanto Tribunal in The Hague. (Photo: © Karin Heinze)
Whitewash: The Story of a Weed Killer, Cancer, and the Corruption of Science
Another very interesting book on glyphosate and Monsanto was published by Carey Gillam, investigative journalist "Whitewash: The Story of a Weed Killer, Cancer, and the Corruption of Science". "Whitewash is more than an exposé about the hazards of one chemical or even the influence of one company. It’s a story of power, politics, and the deadly consequences of putting corporate interests ahead of public safety", states Monsanto Tribunal.org. Also the comprehensive 124-page brochure describes in German and French what happened during the Monsanto Tribunal. It is printed and distributed in Switzerland. If the Monsanto Tribunal Foundation can raise the necessary funds, there will be also an international version.
Dr Shiv Chopra listening the lawyers´ statements at the Tribunal. (Photo: © Karin Heinze)
One example among many: No justice for Monsanto Tribunal witness Shiv Chopra
Dr. Shiv Chopra was one of three Health Canada veterinary scientists who spoke out in the 1990s. He denounced the pressure from their bosses to approve drugs (including the infamous bovine growth hormone rBST), despite concerns about its safety. He accused the federal government of allowing corporations to influence the approval process for veterinary drugs and inadequately protecting the food system. He and his colleagues, Dr. Haydon and Dr. Lambert, were eventually fired in 2004 for insubordination. Unlike Chopra, Haydon and Lambert previously won the right to be reinstated because previous suspensions had been wiped from their records. Chopra claimed that courts have never considered the actual content of his concerns about Health Canada. ‘If today I had won, I would get compensated for my loss of salary. But the issue of public food safety would still remain.' Products are used in the food system – hormones, antibiotics, slaughterhouse byproducts used in animal feed, pesticides and genetically modified organisms. ‘The cause and the issue is still there’, he said. Read more about that case and watch Dr. Chopra’s testimony at the Monsanto Tribunal.
Activists protesting in front of the building where the Tribunal took place. (Photo: © Karin Heinze)
Monsanto Tribunal wants to continue, spreading the word
Monsanto Tribunal wants to continue, spreading the word: "We are looking into an international study into the real costs of Monsanto’s business for human health and nature. We want to calculate the damages caused by the company to make sure that those responsible will be held accountable. Such damage should not be swept under the carpet when Bayer and Monsanto merge." The funds raised to organize the Monsanto Tribunal and the outreach have now come to an end. None of the speakers and witnesses have received any money except travel expenses. Most of the organisation work has been done by volunteers, only a small part of the staff has received a very moderate salary during the preparations. We are proud that we have been able to achieve this very important work with your support.The Monsanto Tribunal organisation is now asking again for financial help (donate) and to spread the word.