Biotech giant Monsanto "has engaged in practices which have negatively impacted the right to a healthy environment, the right to food, and the right to health," five international judges comprising the "Monsanto Tribunal" declared Tuesday.
The panel, which heard two days of testimony outside the Hague in October and spent the months since reviewing the evidence, concluded that "if such a crime of ecocide were recognized in international criminal law, the activities of Monsanto could possibly constitute" such a crime, citing its widespread dissemination of "dangerous agrochemicals in industrial agriculture;" "the engineering, production, introduction, and release of genetically engineered crops;" and "the introduction of persistent organic pollutants such as PCB into the environment."
Convened by civil society groups including the Organic Consumers Association, Navdanya, IFOAM Organics International, the Biovision Foundation, and Regeneration International, the tribunal's findings are not legally binding. However, they bolster the coalition's larger effort "to liberate our seeds and soils, our communities and societies, our planet and ourselves, from poisons and the rule of the poison cartel," as Navdanya founder Vandana Shiva wrote last year.
Indeed, the judges wrote, "the advisory opinion is a strong signal to those involved in international law, but also to the victims of toxic chemicals and corporate power. The tribunal has created links and shared important information between lawyers and organizations that represent the victims. Therefore it is likely that the conclusions will lead to more liability cases against Monsanto and similar companies. [...] Companies that cause damage to health, food, and the environment should and will be held accountable for their actions."
What's more, the tribunal noted that its findings should be of special interest to Bayer, which is currently considering a controversial merger with Monsanto: "The reputation of Monsanto—and Bayer in case of a merger—will not exactly improve with these conclusions by the judges of the tribunal," the panel wrote.
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"The hope is that the work completed during the past six months by the Monsanto Tribunal judges will help international policymakers and courts as they look for ways to hold multinational corporations accountable for the damage they inflict on our right to health and a healthy environment," added Katherine Paul, associate director of the Organic Consumers Association.
Watch the judges deliver their findings below:
And see more on the ruling under the hashtag #MonsantoTribunal: