|Photo Borrowed from the Monsanto Tribunal Website|
This weekend an important international event will take place in the Netherlands, it’s called The Monsanto Tribunal. “The Monsanto Tribunal is an international civil society initiative to hold Monsanto accountable for human rights violations, for crimes against humanity, and for ecocide. Eminent judges will hear testimonies from victims, and deliver an advisory opinion following procedures of the International Court of Justice.” The Tribunal will be held at The Hague in the Netherlands and from October 14-16 individuals from all over the world will gather with the goal of exposing Monsanto, the US based company responsible for producing GMO seeds as well as toxic agrochemicals. Monsanto’s products, which include PCB’s, 2-4-5 T (a dioxin that was part of Agent Orange), and RoundUp (which contains glysophate), have brought direct harm to many farmers and communities across the world causing irreversible damage to human health and our environment. As is stated on the website for the Tribunal, “Monsanto promotes an agroindustrial model that contributes at least one third of global anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions; it is also largely responsible for the depletion of soil and water resources, species extinction and declining biodiversity, and the displacement of millions of small farmers worldwide. This is a model that threatens peoples’ food sovereignty by patenting seeds and privatizing life.”
How has Monsanto gained such an upper hand in our agriculture and food systems to the detriment of our own health? They are tricky and have managed to intertwine themselves by strategically influencing lobbying regulatory agencies and governments, by financing biased and fraudulent scientific studies which produce results in their favor, but not results that are meaningful or reliable and by manipulating independent scientists as well as the press and media through lies and corruption. “The history of Monsanto would thereby constitute a text-book case of impunity, benefiting transnational corporations and their executives, whose activities contribute to climate and biosphere crises and threaten the safety of the planet.”
A citizen’s tribunal is a community-led, court-like litigation event that is conducted according to the laws and standards applied to legal proceedings of a similar nature. While this tribunal will not have the power to result in binding legal decisions or to bring justice through their verdicts, the judges hearing the cases presented will use their expertise to deliver a written verdict of guilt or innocence which will serve as a platform for future legal cases. The tribunal “aims to assess these allegations made against Monsanto, and to evaluate the damages caused by this transnational company. The Tribunal will rely on the ‘Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights’ adopted at the UN in 2011. It will also assess potential criminal liability on the basis of the Rome Statute that created the International Criminal Court in The Hague in 2002. The Tribunal shall also assess the conduct of Monsanto as regards the crime of ecocide, which it has been proposed to include in international criminal law. It shall examine whether the Rome Statute establishing the International Criminal Court in force since 2002 should be reformed, in order to include the crime of ecocide and to allow for the prosecution of individual and legal entities suspected of having committed this crime.”
While Monsanto and other biotech companies want us to believe their “advances” in technology will help us “feed the world” and benefit society, their motives are actually to gain power and control over our food supply with the end goal of increasing their profits. Political decisions have been based on biased research meant to “slide” things through regulatory agencies. Products have been released into the market without proper evaluation of their safety and all of us, without consent, have been part of the largest human health study ever conducted. Their chemicals are irreversibly changing our landscape. We now have to worry about chemical drift and genetics from altered plants and animals spreading into non-GMO species; and there’s no turning back. Novel proteins are in our food supply and are causing a myriad of devastating health problems. Farmers’ health and livelihoods have been destroyed, children have been born with birth defects, farmers in India and around the world are committing suicide because they see no other way out of this tangled web of deception they’ve been drawn into.
The tribunal has been organized by a steering committee of individuals who, in a variety of ways, have been instrumental in protecting people and the environment against the harmful effects of biotechnology. Some come from a legal background while others have been involved in scientific research, human rights defense, environmental protection and more. The full list of indivduals as well as more thorough background information about The Monsanto Tribunal and the five judges who will be delivering the verdict may be found at the official website: monsantotribunal.org. The proceedings of the Tribunal may be viewed at this website as well and will be streamed live once the proceedings are underway. The court will hand down its decision in December 2016.
This is an important event and, while Monsanto is the example, they are not the only biotech company responsible for these allegations. We’ll be reporting more information about the Tribunal as it becomes available, but we also encourage each of you to take a look at the tribunal website and educate yourselves on the background behind and potential impact of this important event: monsantotribunal.org.