The Organic Consumers Association, IFOAM International Organics, Navdanya, Regeneration International (RI) and Millions Against Monsanto, joined by dozens of global food, farming and environmental justice groups announced last week that they will put Monsanto, a U.S.-based transnational corporation, on trial for crimes against nature and humanity and ecocide, in The Hague, Netherlands, next year on World Food Day, Oct. 16, 2016.
The announcement was made at a press conference held in conjunction with the COP21 United Nations Conference on Climate Change in Paris.
“The time is long overdue for a global citizens’ tribunal to put Monsanto on trial for crimes against humanity and the environment,” Ronnie Cummins, international director of the Organic Consumers Association and Via Organica, said. “We are in Paris this month to address the most serious threat that humans have ever faced in our 100-200,000 year evolution—global warming and climate disruption. Why is there so much carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide in the atmosphere and not enough carbon organic matter in the soil? Corporate agribusiness, industrial forestry, the garbage and sewage industry and agricultural biotechnology have literally killed the climate-stabilizing, carbon-sink capacity of the Earth’s living soil.”
Vandana Shiva, physicist, author, activist and founder of Navdanya agrees. “Monsanto has pushed GMOs in order to collect royalties from poor farmers, trapping them in unpayable debt and pushing them to suicide,” she said. “Monsanto promotes an agro-industrial model that contributes at least 50 percent of global anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions. Monsanto 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.”
Since the beginning of the twentieth century, Monsanto has developed a steady stream of highly toxic products which have permanently damaged the environment and caused illness or death for thousands of people. These products include:
• PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyl), one of the 12 Persistent Organic Pollutants (POP) that affect human and animal fertility;
• 2,4,5 T (2,4,5-trichlorophenoxyacetic acid), a dioxin-containing component of the defoliant, Agent Orange, which was used by the U.S. Army during the Vietnam War and continues to cause birth defects and cancer;
• Lasso, an herbicide that is now banned in Europe; and
• Roundup, the most widely used herbicide in the world and the source of the greatest health and environmental scandal in modern history. This toxic herbicide, designated a probable human carcinogen by the World Health Organization, is used in combination with genetically modified RoundUp Ready seeds in large-scale monocultures, primarily to produce soybeans, maize and rapeseed for animal feed and biofuels.
Relying on the “Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights” adopted by the UN in 2011, an international court of lawyers and judges will assess the potential criminal liability of Monsanto for damages inflicted on human health and the environment. The court will also rely on the Rome Statute that created the International Criminal Court in The Hague in 2002 and it will consider whether to reform international criminal law to include crimes against the environment, or ecocide, as a prosecutable criminal offense. The International Criminal Court, established in 2002 in The Hague, has determined that prosecuting ecocide as a criminal offense is the only way to guarantee the rights of humans to a healthy environment and the right of nature to be protected.