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"Monsanto's history reads like 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," said IFOAM-Organics International president Andre Leu. (Photo: djandywdotcom/flickr/cc)

Monsanto Faces People's Tribunal for Crimes Against Planet and Humanity

Mock trial at The Hague calls on International Criminal Court to take real action against biotech behemoth

Nika Knight Beauchamp

The people are taking Monsanto to court.

An international tribunal is being staged in front of The Hague this weekend to highlight the human rights violations and ecological devastation wreaked by the GMO and chemical giant around the world, as well as to draw attention to the failure of the International Criminal Court (ICC) to bring such corporate criminals to justice.

The three-day "moral trial," arranged by an international coalition of rights and environmental groups, begins Friday. 

People's assemblies at the Hague and around the globe will draw attention to the unprecedented trial.

"This tribunal might not be legally binding, but it will highlight the urgent need for similar legal mechanisms to hold corporations accountable for the damage they cause in the pursuit of profit," said Global Justice Now food campaigner Heidi Chow in a statement.

The tribunal comes as Monsanto comes closer to merging with chemical giant Bayer, to form the largest GMO and pesticide company in the world.

Monsanto has attempted to dismiss the trial as a "stunt." But activists say it is a "test of international law," as the Guardian reports, and argue that Monsanto's ongoing crimes must be brought to light.

"Monsanto is able to ignore the human and environmental damage caused by its products, and maintain its devastating activities through a strategy of systemic concealment: by lobbying regulatory agencies and governments, by resorting to lying and corruption, by financing fraudulent scientific studies, by pressuring independent scientists, and by manipulating the press and media," said Andre Leu, president of IFOAM-Organics International, one of the groups behind the tribunal.

Indeed, it's not just Monsanto's products that have been so harmful: a new report by the Corporate Europe Observatory (CEO) finds that Monsanto's political influence and lobbying efforts have also contributed to a global erosion of democracy, environmental chaos, and social injustice.

"Corporate crimes have become visible everywhere, the corporations become bigger, claiming absolute power, absolute rights, absolute immunity, deploying more violent tools against nature and people."
—Vandana Shiva

The report (pdf) published Thursday by CEO, "Monsanto Lobbying: An attack on us, our planet and democracy," is intended to be a guide to the tribunal's proceedings.

"Monsanto's history reads like 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," as Leu said.

EcoWatch summarizes the notoriously long history of Monsanto's ill effects on human rights and the environment:

Monsanto, which is inching closer to a $66 billion takeover from German pharmaceuticals giant Bayer, has faced a never-ending slew of health and environmental controversies over its products since, well, the beginning of the twentieth century.

Monsanto's historical line-up of products includes banned and highly toxic chemicals such as 2,4,5-trichlorophenoxyacetic acid (a dioxin-containing component of the defoliant Agent Orange); PCBs(polychlorinated biphenyl); and Lasso, a herbicide banned in Europe. Glyphosate, the controversialmain ingredient in Monsanto's best-selling weedkiller RoundUp, is the most widely used pesticide in the world. Monsanto is also the world's largest genetically modified (GMO) seed maker, giving them a major hand over the world food supply.

With Monsanto's and other large corporations' growing power has come increasing devastation to people and the planet, activists argue.

"Corporate crimes have become visible everywhere, the corporations become bigger, claiming absolute power, absolute rights, absolute immunity, deploying more violent tools against nature and people," wrote anti-GMO crusader Vandana Shiva in a Common Dreams op-ed earlier this week. "The People's Assembly will not just take stock of the past and present crimes. It will look at future crimes with the aim of preventing them."


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