PENANG, Malaysia – Five years ago the Permanent People’s Tribunal (PPT) found Monsanto and five other giant agrochemical companies guilty of “gross, widespread and systematic violations of the right to health and life, economic, social and cultural rights, as well as of civil and political rights, and women and children’s rights.”
On 6 December 2011, the PPT, an opinion tribunal that looks into complaints of human rights violations, issued a landmark verdict upholding the charges made by affected communities against Monsanto, Syngenta, Bayer, Dow Chemical, DuPont and BASF.
Convened in Bangalore, India and organized by Pesticide Action Network (PAN) International the PPT said that the world’s then six largest agrochemical transnational corporations (TNCs) are responsible for violation of indigenous peoples’ human rights, and further found that “their systematic acts of corporate governance have caused avoidable catastrophic risks, increasing the prospects of extinction of biodiversity, including species whose continued existence is necessary for reproduction of human life.”
“It is important to revisit the historic PPT verdict as we prepare for the Monsanto Tribunal. The evidence presented against Monsanto and other agrochem TNCs remain valid today,” PANAP executive director Ms. Sarojeni V. Rengam said.
(See the indictment and PPT verdict here.)
According to its organizers, 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 take place from 14 to 16 October 2016 in The Hague, Netherlands.
“The poisoning of people and the environment is still going on as highly hazardous pesticides such as glyphosate are being produced and marketed by corporations like Monsanto. This is even in the face of the classification of the International Agency for Research on Cancer of glyphosate as a probable carcinogen,” added Ms. Rengam.
One of the tragic cases heard by the PPT in 2011 was the death of eleven-year old Paraguayan Silvino Talavera, who died on January 2003 because of exposure to glyphosate (Round-up Ready) being applied to Monsanto’s genetically engineered RR soybeans.
“We have proof that there was poison in his blood. We are trying to hold Monsanto accountable for the death of my son from pesticide poisoning,” his mother, Petrona Villasboa, then said during the PPT hearings.
Ms. Rengam said that until today, glyphosate is being used and children continue to be exposed and vulnerable to glyphosate poisoning.
“The PPT on agrochemical TNCs and now the Monsanto Tribunal are marks of an escalated international people’s movement against agrochemical TNCs and to stop these corporations from violating the human rights of people, particularly children and marginalized communities,” said Ms. Rengam.
The PANAP official also noted that another significant development is the push in the UN for a binding international treaty on TNCs and other business enterprises with respect to human rights. An intergovernmental working group has already been set up to elaborate on the said proposed international legally binding instrument that would regulate, in international human rights law, the activities of TNCs and other business enterprises.
Reference: Ms. Sarojeni V. Rengam, PANAP Executive Director, email@example.com