PAN International To Give Evidence In The Hague At The Monsanto Tribunal And Contribute “State Of The Science” On Glyphosate To The Peoples Assembly

Between October the 14-15th 2016, Monsanto will be put on trial in The Hague for crimes against humanity. Specific charges include human rights abuses and ecocide, the large-scale destruction of the environment, as part of an international tribunal targeting the agro-chemical corporation.

This is a moral tribunal1, organized by civil society groups to protest the lack of available legal tools to hold Monsanto accountable for its actions. The Tribunal will assess specific allegations of harm made against Monsanto, as well as the human health and environmental damage caused by the company throughout its history. Eminent judges will hear testimonies from victims and experts, including PAN Internationals’ Dr. Peter Clausing, Ms. Sarojeni V. Rengam and Mr Francois Veillerette. The panel of judges will deliver an advisory opinion following International Criminal Court Procedures. Monsanto representatives have been invited to attend.

The Tribunal also builds on the findings of the Permanent People’s Tribunal (PPT)2, held five years ago in Bangalore, India and organized by PAN International.3

Dr Peter Clausing, from PAN Germany, will be giving evidence (4) (5) at the International Peoples Tribunal on the arguments regulatory agencies (BfR, EFS) used to deny the carcinogenicity of glyphosate. He will present on Sunday, 16 October 2016 from 12:30 to 13:00 during the Hearing on “Pressures on stakeholders and institutions.”

Mr Francois Veillerette, from PAN Europe will be speaking at The Peoples Assembly6 on the 14th of Octoberbetween 14.30-16.00 as part of the “Poisoning Life” workshop. They will be will be speaking about “pesticides in people: a widespread contamination that threatens the health of present and future generations

Ms. Sarojeni V. Rengam, from PAN Asia & the Pacific on behalf of PAN International will be hosting an event at The Wintergarden of The Peoples Assembly on Saturday 15th October at 12:45 to share findings from the newly released Glyphosate Monograph7, a “state of the science” review presenting a large body of research documenting the adverse human health and environmental impacts of glyphosate and glyphosate-based herbicides. The review underscores the need for a global phase-out and has been welcomed by environmental and health advocates as a wake up call for regulators, governments and users around the world.

Ms Angeliki Lysimachou, from PAN Europe and Mr Koen Hertoge, from PAN Italy, will be moderating the workshop B series9 on Saturday 14th and Sunday 15th at the Peoples’ Assembly on ‘Pesticides and Toxic Chemicals: How to ban them’

Quotes

Ms. Sarojeni V. Rengam, Director PAN Asia & the Pacific
“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.”

“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,”

Dr Peter Clausing, PAN Germany
“Proper evaluation of the evidence provided by EFSA and ECHA in their own documents, inevitably leads to the conclusion that glyphosate is carcinogenic in experimental animals, warranting a Category 1B carcinogenicity labelling of glyphosate in accordance with the European CLH categories.”

Keith Tyrell, PAN UK
”For far too long Monsanto, and the rest of the agrochemical industry, have been allowed a free hand to poison the planet for their own profits. It is clear that politicians and regulators around the world are not prepared to step in and hold them responsible so it is up to us, the people, to hold them to account. We hope that this tribunal will shine a light on the harmful activities of Monsanto and the destruction their pesticides cause to people and planet and that it will provoke and embolden those that are charged with ensuring the health of this world into finally taking action against them”.

Judy Hatcher, Director PAN North America
“Monsanto has been reaping profits at the expense of farmers and communities across the globe for much too long. Its GE/pesticide packages epitomize the failures of industrial agriculture, keeping farmers trapped on a pesticide treadmill that only benefits Monsanto’s bottom line.

“From Iowa to Argentina, this corporation’s products and practices have put the health and livelihood of farmers and communities at risk for too long. The Tribunal offers an important opportunity to spotlight these harms on a global stage.”

Supporting Documents

1Information on The Tribunal http://www.monsanto-tribunal.org/main.php?obj_id=281601562

2 PPT Indictment and Verdict http://pan-international.org/wp-content/uploads/Peoples_Tribunal_on_agrochemical_TNCs_-_indictment_and_verdict.pdf

3 Press Release From PAN-AP http://panap.net/childrenandpesticide/?p=1509

4 The 31 August 2015 Addendum to the Renewal Assessment Report on Glyphosate – A critical analysis http://www.pan-germany.org/download/PAN_Germany_Addendum_analysis_09112015.pdf

5 PAN Germany: Comments on ECHA’s CLH – Report regarding Carcinogenicity http://www.pan-germany.org/download/PAN_Germany_Comment_on_CLH-Report_regarding_Carcinogenicity_1607.pdf

6 International Monsanto Tribunal Program http://monsantotribunal.org/upload/asset_cache/927751509.pdf

7 The Peoples Assembly program http://monsantotribunal.org/upload/asset_cache/248685559.pdf

8 Glyphosate Monograph http://pan-international.org/wp-content/uploads/Glyphosate-monograph.pdf

9 Peoples’ Assembly Workshop Details http://www.monsanto-tribunal.org/upload/asset_cache/806133264.pdf

For more information please contact:

Keith Tyrell, PAN UK: +44 (0) 7588706224: keith@pan-uk.org

Dr. Peter Clausing, PAN Germany: +49 (0) 176-7801 2705, peter.clausing@pan-germany.org

Sarojeni V. Rengam, PAN Asia Pacific: +60124789545, sarojeni.rengam@panap.net

Angeliki Lyssimachou, PAN Europe, +32 2-318-6255, Angeliki@pan-europe.info

Paul Towers, PAN North America, +1 916-216-1082, paul@panna.org

Comprehensive New Review Of Monsanto’s Glyphosate Underscores Urgent Need For Global Action

In a “state of the science” review released today, PAN International presents a large body of research documenting the adverse human health and environmental impacts of glyphosate and glyphosate-based herbicides and underscores the need for a global phase-out. Environmental and health advocates say the monograph on the world’s most widely used herbicide, commonly known by its original trade name Roundup, should serve as a wake up call for regulators, governments and users around the world.

Adverse human impacts detailed in the review include acute poisoning, kidney and liver damage, imbalances in the intestinal microbiome and intestinal functioning, cancer, genotoxicity, endocrine disruption, reproductive and developmental reduction, neurological damage, and immune system dysfunction. The full Monograph review can be accessed here http://www.panap.net/sites/default/files/Glyphosate-monograph.pdf

glyphosate-monograph-cover

Aggressive public relations and marketing by glyphosate’s developer, Monsanto, has resulted in the widespread perception that the chemical is ‘safe’. Registration processes continue to allow its use without raising concerns about its safety even as new data identifying adverse effects emerge.

Dr Meriel Watts, PAN New Zealand and one of the authors of the monograph said, “The time has come for global recognition of the widespread harm caused to people and the environment from the constant use of glyphosate. For too long regulators have ignored the mounting evidence of damage, hiding behind unpublished studies by Monsanto, which not surprisingly paint a picture of a benign chemical startlingly at odds with reality.”

This review dispels this myth of ‘safety’ and highlights the urgent need to re-examine the authorization of products containing glyphosate. A full chemical profile is presented, along with the regulatory status of products containing glyphosate in many countries and information on viable alternatives.

Sarojeni V. Rengam, PAN Asia and the Pacific said that, “Glyphosate is a highly hazardous pesticide. There are other ecosystem based non-chemical alternatives that do not require the use of such hazardous herbicides. We therefore urge Monsanto and other agrochemical corporations to stop the production and marketing of glyphosate in order to ensure the health of people and the environment.”

Glyphosate is included in PAN International’s “List of Highly Hazardous Pesticides” (1) targeted for global phaseout. The global network is calling for the herbicide to be replaced by agroecological approaches to weed management in diversified cropping systems and non-crop situations.

Glyphosate is sprayed on numerous crops and plantations, including about 80% of genetically engineered, or GE crops, as well as a pre-harvest desiccant, which results in high food residues. It is also widely used in home gardens and public places including roadsides, and semi-natural and natural habitats. Due to its widespread use residues are now detected in different types of foods, drinking water, wine and beer; and even in non-food products derived from GM cotton. The extent of human exposure is confirmed by the presence of glyphosate in human urine wherever it has been tested, principally in Europe and North America; it has also been found in breast milk in the USA.

The 2015 classification by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) of glyphosate as a probable human carcinogen resulted in widespread concern about its continued use, especially pre-harvest and in public places.

Dr. Peter Clausing, PAN Germany said “In 2017 the European Chemicals Agency has to decide whether it accepts the compelling evidence for glyphosate’s carcinogenicity and declares it a carcinogen. This would be an overdue acknowledgement of the reality.”

As a result, national bans and restrictions, and voluntary action by local authorities and retailers to curb use are rising dramatically. Sri Lanka was the first country to ban it completely, although the ban has recently been relaxed to allow use in tea plantations; Italy has banned pre-harvest use, and all use in public places and those frequented by children and the elderly; France is phasing out the use of pesticides in towns and public areas; and the European Union has extended approval for glyphosate for only 18 months instead of the usual 15 years. The research and evidence detailed in the review released today provides valuable scientific evidence for all communities wanting to follow these leads.

Environmental impacts detailed in the monograph are no less concerning, and include adverse effects on ecosystem functioning, pollination services, biological controls, soil fertility and crop health. Residues are widespread in the environment, including in rainwater, surface and ground waters, and the marine environment. Glyphosate can persist in some soils for up to 3 years; and there is some evidence of bioaccumulation.

Dr. Emily Marquez, staff scientist, PAN North America said, “The glyphosate mess illustrates the problems with industrial agriculture. Farmers are again trapped on a pesticide treadmill, as widespread adoption of Monsanto’s genetically engineered “Roundup-Ready” crops resulted in glyphosate-resistant superweeds. And yet again, human health impacts of the chemical come to light after years of widespread use. It’s time to shift away from this failing cycle of chemical reliance.”

Resistance to glyphosate is now recorded in 35 weed species and in 27 countries, mostly caused by the repeated use of glyphosate in GE crops, no-till agriculture, and amenity use.

The monograph also contains a useful section on alternative weed management and provides information on a wide variety of non-chemical approaches to weed management in various situations.

Supporting Documents:

(1)  PAN International’s “List of Highly Hazardous Pesticides”, http://www.pan-germany.org/download/PAN_HHP_List_150602_F.pdf

For more information please contact:

Dr Meriel Watts, PAN New Zealand: +64-21-1807830; merielwatts@xtra.co.nz

Keith Tyrell, PAN-UK: +44 (0) 7588706224: keith@pan-uk.org

Paul Towers, PAN North America: 915-216-1082, paul@panna.org

Dr. Peter Clausing, PAN Germany: +49 (0) 176-7801 2705, peter.clausing@pan-germany.org

People’s Verdict Vs. Agrochem TNCs Revisited As Monsanto Tribunal Nears

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.

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Reference: Ms. Sarojeni V. Rengam, PANAP Executive Director, sarojeni.rengam@panap.net

Monsanto A Culprit In Global Food And Climate Crises: Support For The International Monsanto Tribunal!

tribunal-monsanto

We, individuals and representatives of various people’s and civil society organisations fully support the International Monsanto Tribunal, which will be held in The Hague, Netherlands from 14 to 16 October 2016.

Following procedures of the International Court of Justice, the Tribunal will hold Monsanto accountable for human rights and environmental violations. We believe that such an initiative, supported through international solidarity, will be a crucial step towards corporate accountability and achieving justice for Monsanto’s victims worldwide. It is apparent that Monsanto’s vast monopoly control over seeds and chemical inputs has put millions of food producers and rural peoples under a web of suffering and exploitation. Their most basic rights to health and life—as well as economic, social, and cultural rights—are needlessly violated. This was no less than the indictment of a Permanent People’s Tribunal on Agrochemical TNCs, held in 2011 at Bangalore, India, wherein Monsanto was one of the six agrochemical TNCs found guilty of “gross, widespread and systematic violations,” based on testimonies by victims and health and environmental scientists.

Since the beginning of the twentieth century, Monsanto, a US-based transnational corporation (TNC), has developed and marketed highly toxic pesticides that were proven to have permanently damaged the environment and killed or caused the illnesses of thousands of people including children.

The most hazardous of these products include the Persistent Organic Pollutant PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls); the Vietnam War defoliant Agent Orange; and Round-Up, a glyphosate herbicide used widely in combination with genetically modified (GM) seeds. Monsanto’s Round-Up is a probable carcinogen classified by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) and yet the use of Round-Up has increased tremendously due to the aggressive public relations and marketing efforts by Monsanto.  Victims of acute and chronic poisoning from these and other toxic chemicals have not been acknowledged or compensated by Monsanto. Their numbers also continue to grow on a daily basis.

Together with the world’s largest agrochemical TNCs, Monsanto has for the past decades aggressively shaped and promoted an agro-industrial model that is estimated to contribute around one-third of greenhouse gas emissions, further aggravating the climate crisis. This input-intensive model has depleted soil and water resources, degraded the environment, and destroyed biodiversity on a global scale.

Increasingly, Monsanto creates large-scale monocultures of GM crops dedicated to animal feed and biofuels, further endangering food security, displacing small food producers, and contributing to the rapid loss of traditional seeds and varieties. Food sovereignty, especially of rural women who have been seed savers and keepers for generations, is greatly undermined.

Monsanto has profited immensely from patenting life forms and placing additional economic burdens on farmers. In India, for instance, 95 percent of cotton is grown using Monsanto’s technology; in these same cotton fields, thousands of farmers end their own life because Monsanto’s BT cotton did not perform as promised, leaving the farmers in debt. Elsewhere, farmers also have to pay increasing royalties and fines demanded by Monsanto, who have enlisted governments in monitoring—and profiteering from—the use of their technology.

As the global food and climate crises worsens, as do poverty and hunger among the world’s food producers and rural peoples, it becomes even more pressing that, as an international community, we call out one of the biggest corporation and make them accountable to these violations. We believe that without a stronger and more united push for corporate accountability, Monsanto will continue to get away with these violations at the expense of future generations.

Support the International Monsanto Tribunal!  Sign the petition:

If you are signing on as an organization – http://www.monsanto-tribunal.org/sign-org

If you are signing on as an individual – http://www.monsanto-tribunal.org/sign

 

Defend Food Sovereignty! Fight for Climate Justice!

Resist Corporate Takeover on Agriculture!

Push for Corporate Accountability!

 

 

Signatories:

 

Regional/International NGOs

PAN Asia Pacific (PANAP)

People’s Coalition on Food Sovereignty (PCFS)

Asian Peasant Coalition (APC)

 

CAMBODIA

Cambodian Center for Study and Development in Agriculture (CEDAC)

 

CHINA

Eco-Women

 

INDONESIA

Serikat Perempuan Indonesia (SERUNI)

GITA PERTIWI Ecological Studies Programme

 

MALAYSIA

North South Initiative (NSI)

 

PHILIPPINES

Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas/Peasant Movement of the Philippines (KMP)

National Federation of Peasant Women (AMIHAN)

Sining na Naglilingkod sa Bayan (SINAGBAYAN)

National Network of Agrarian Reform Advocates – Youth (NNARA-YOUTH)

 

THAILAND

Sustainable Development Foundation (SDF)

Alternative Agriculture Network (AAN)

 

VIETNAM

Research Centre for Gender, Family and Environment in Development (CGFED)

Centre for Sustainable Rural Development (SRD)

 

FIJI

femLINKPacific Media Initiatives for Women (femLINKPACIFIC)

 

BANGLADESH
Bangladesh Resource Centre for Indigenous Knowledge (BARCIK)

 

INDIA

SAHANIVASA

NISARGA

THANAL

KUDUMBAM

Society for Rural Education and Development (SRED)

Tamil Nadu Women’s Forum (TNWF)

 

SRI LANKA

Vikalpani National Women’s Federation

Savisthri (Women in Development Alternatives) Movement

 

PAKISTAN

KHOJ Society for People’s Education

Pakistan Kissan Mazdoor Tehreek (PKMT)

ROOTS for Equity

 

KYRGYZTAN

Alga

 

MONGOLIA

Centre for Human Rights and Development (CHRD)

Peoples’ Coalition for Food Sovereignty – Mongolia Chapter

 

SENEGAL

PAN Africa

 

ETHIOPIA

Pesticide Action Nexus Association, PAN-Ethiopia

 

_________________________________________________

The 16 Days of Global Action on Land and Resources, supports the Monsanto Tribunal on 14-16 October in The Hague, Netherlands. The 16 Days of Global Action on Land and Resources is a series of collective action of 31 organisations of farmers, women and other advocacy groups from 19 countries. It will culminate on 15 and 16 October.

16 Days of Global Action on Land and Resources: 31 groups from 19 countries push for food sovereignty and climate justice

In a series of collective action of farmers, movements and advocacy groups from different countries from October 1 to 16, PAN Asia Pacific (PANAP) organises once again the “16 Days of Global Action on Land and Resources”.

This global campaign addresses the most urgent crises faced by small-scale farmers and food producers, especially in poor countries- climate change, hunger, food insecurity, and land grabbing.

For PANAP, a global campaign on land and resources is urgent, necessary and just, now more than ever. Apart from the massive impact of climate change in their communities, small-scale farmers and food producers are directly affected by aggressive expansion of corporate agriculture in different forms, such as land grabbing. For instance, the latest report of non-government organization GRAIN exposed 491 deals on land grabbing, covering 30 million hectares spanning 78 countries. Under these land deals, small food producers’ rights to land and resources are taken away, undermining their food sovereignty.

On the other hand, it needs to be stressed that when the people resist, it is often met with state aggression and violence. From January 2015 to August 2016 alone, Land Rights and Watch, (LR Watch) has listed 4,651 human rights violations from January 2015 to August 2016 due to land conflicts and struggles. LR Watch is an initiative of PANAP and its partners and networks to closely monitor and expose human rights abuses against communities opposing land and resource grabbing,

Seventy percent of world food is produced by small farm holders, according to a 2014 UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (UN FAO) report. Ironically though, among those who suffer the most are the small food-producers.

This year’s 16 Days of Global Action on Land and Resources campaign aims to generate solidarity in the struggle for collective rights, mobilise people to be involved in the people’s resistance against corporate agriculture, land grabbing and all forms of repression. It also aims to gather broader support and promote initiatives of small food producers and farming communities on food sovereignty and agroecology as an alternative to corporate agriculture. The campaign will also highlight the different activities of participating groups in putting forward solutions and positive actions within the communities. There will be workshops, educational exchanges, song festival and theatre performances that are aimed at strengthening communities’ resilience amid the crises they are faced with.

In South Asia, women groups are organising training-workshops, public meetings and rallies that will tackle issues such as food security, impact of climate change in agriculture, impact of pesticides use, and rural women’s role in food production. On the other hand, participating groups in Africa will hold workshops and dialogues among farmers and government officials on the issues of local agricultural situation, food injustice and repression. Meanwhile, groups from Southeast Asia are tackling the issues of landlessness, hunger, and food security in different activities during the 16 days of global action.

The 16 Days of Global Action on Land and Resources 2016 will also highlight the Monsanto Tribunal on October 14-16 in Hague, The Netherlands. As part of its support to the tribunal, PANAP will gather signatures all over the world through a petition that will highlight the agrochemical giant’s crimes against humanity. The petition calls on the people to resist corporate takeover on agriculture.

The 16 Days of Global Action on Land and Resources will culminate on International Rural Women’s Day (15 October) and World Foodless/Hunger Day (16 October) through rallies and mass actions across the globe.

Reference: Sarojeni Rengam, Executive Director, PAN Asia Pacific, 16daysofaction@panap.net

Defend food sovereignty!
Support Agroecology! Support Climate-resilient Agriculture!
Fight for climate justice!
Resist Corporate Takeover on Agriculture!
Uphold women’s rights!
Land to the Landless! Land to the Tillers!

12th Chemical Review Committee Of The Rotterdam Convention Fails To Make Sufficient Progress On Atrazine

Blog by Dr. Meriel Watts

(Rome) – The technical committee of the Rotterdam Convention on Prior Informed Consent (PIC) in the Trade of Certain Hazardous Chemicals and Pesticides met in Rome from Sept 14th to 16th, to consider notification of final regulatory action on several pesticides and industrial chemicals. Notable amongst these was the reconsideration of notification from the EU and 8 West African countries of their bans of the herbicide atrazine, which stalled at the meeting last year. And it stalled again this year. Unsurprisingly politics seem to be playing a part in this process as suddenly a higher standard of risk evaluation is required for this widely used herbicide to progress through the listing process than has been seen for other chemicals. Some countries have particularly targeted the decision making process in the EU where atrazine was banned because of its presence in drinking water but no assessment of adverse effects on people was carried out. The non-party observer USA even tried to stop the Committee considering atrazine again. However, PAN AP’s Meriel Watts was able to get the committee to progress discussion at this meeting despite reluctance from a number of committee members to do so.

On a brighter note, the proposal to list a severely hazardous pesticide formulation of carbofuran containing 330 gm active ingredient per litre was successful – Colombia had proposed this formulation after finding that 95% of people poisoned by carbofuran were poisoned with this formulation. Of 699 cases of pesticide poisoning recorded between 2011 and 203, 408 were caused by carbofuran. Draft Decision Guidance Documents for the active ingredients carbosulfan and carbofuran were also agreed and will be forwarded to the Conference of Parties next April for a decision on listing under the Convention.

And the meeting was rounded out by an excellent presentation from PAN UK scientists Stephanie Williamson, on nonchemical alternatives to highly hazardous pesticides, particularly carbofuran on coffee and tomato in Costa Rica, and Rina Guadagnini on PAN UK’s project with FAO on HHPs in former Soviet Union Countries.

PAN Shows Support to Upcoming Tribunal vs. Monsanto

As the date for the historic Monsanto Tribunal draws near, an increasing number of civil society organizations are expressing support to the initiative that aims to make the agrochemical giant to answer for its various crimes against the people and the environment.

In her video message as a “patron” for the Monsanto Tribunal, PAN Asia Pacific (PANAP) executive director Sarojeni Rengam on behalf of PAN International said, “We are concerned that Monsanto and other agrochemical TNCs (transnational corporations) produce poisons that continue to harm human health and the environment.”

The video may be viewed here – https://www.facebook.com/monsantotribunal/

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.

Rengam specifically identified Monsanto’s glyphosate called Roundup as one of the highly toxic products that the company produces and permanently damaged the environment and poisoned countless people.

Roundup is a probable carcinogen classified by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) and yet Monsanto persists in marketing the said product. The PANAP official pointed out that use of Roundup has increased tremendously due to the aggressive public relations and marketing efforts by Monsanto. Consequently, it has caused untold poisonings such as the death of 11-year old Sylvino Talavera from Paraguay.

“We hope that this unique Tribunal will bring justice to Sylvino and others who been poisoned, harassed and devastated by the actions of Monsanto. We encourage more people and organizations around the world to support it,” Rengam said.

In a monograph prepared by PANAP for PAN International, the group noted that glyphosate herbicides have been frequently used in self-poisonings and many deaths have occurred, especially in Asia, from as little as 3/4 of a cup of formulated product. There have also been many cases of unintentional poisonings amongst users and bystanders, the former often experiencing severe chemical burns and respiratory problems.

Widespread poisonings have occurred in Latin America as a result of aerial spraying of genetically modified GM soybean crops, and of coca crops in Colombia—effects being recorded as far as 10 km away from the supposed spray zone. The coca spraying (instigated by a US government funded program to eliminate cocaine production in Colombia) was also reported to have also resulted in widespread animal deaths.

Reference: Ms. Sarojeni Rengam (sarojeni.rengam@panap.net)

PANAP joins PH peasant groups in condemning massacre of farmers in disputed military land

Press Release
07 September 2016

PENANG, Malaysia – Regional advocacy group PAN Asia Pacific (PANAP) joins Filipino peasant groups in condemning the recent killing of four farmers in a military reservation that is the subject of a land conflict.

Members of the quick response team of BAYAN-Central Luzon and KARAPATAN-Central Luzon. (Photo credit: Radyo Natin Guimba facebook page)
Members of the quick response team of BAYAN-Central Luzon and KARAPATAN-Central Luzon. (Photo credit: Radyo Natin Guimba facebook page)

In a report by the Alyansa ng mga Magbubukid ng Gitnang Luzon (Alliance of Farmers in Central Luzon – AMGL), the farmers were shot and killed by unknown assailants while resting from their farm chores last Saturday afternoon, 3 September. Victims Baby Mercado, Violeta Mercado, Eligio Barbado and Gaudencio Bagalay were part of an AMGL-initiated land cultivation campaign inside Fort Magsaysay Military Reservation in Nueva Ecija province, more than 179 kilometers north of the capital, Manila.

Another victim, Angelita Milan was injured and rushed to the hospital. Land cultivation campaign – locally called “bungkalan” – is a symbolic protest to assert land rights among Philippine farmers.

Fort Magsaysay is a 3,100 hectare disputed land where incidents of human rights violations such as displacement and killings have been previously reported by local farmers and human rights organizations.

A portion of land under land cultivation campaign on lot 28, Fort Magsasay. (Photo credit: Radyo Natin Guimba facebook page)
A portion of land under land cultivation campaign on lot 28, Fort Magsasay. (Photo credit: Radyo Natin Guimba facebook page)

The Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (Philippine Peasant Movement – KMP) claims that Fort Magsaysay has been ruled for distribution since 1991 under government’s land reform program. But until today, no one of the 5,000 farmer beneficiaries was given genuine land ownership.

A 2015 report by the Global Witness has tagged the Philippines as one of the most dangerous places for environment and land defenders. Meanwhile, PANAP’s Land & Rights Watch has monitored 48 cases of human rights violations related to land grabbing from January 2015 to August 2016.

PANAP expressed hope that the new Philippine administration will be able to put an end to the longstanding violence and human rights abuses against landless farmers and poor rural people.

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Groups vow to strengthen solidarity to press on rural youth agenda

Tarlac, PHILIPPINES – Renewing their call for people’s rights to land and life, thirty-one (31) rural youth activists and advocates from eight (8) countries in Asia Pacific gathered here for a consultation-workshop on enhancing youth participation in rural issues, struggles and alternatives.

A discussion of issues facing the rural youth and sharing of effective strategies and campaigns to confront them highlighted the three-day consultation-workshop. The struggle for land emerged as the key issue facing the rural youth and was the central theme in the discussions.

“We believe that landlessness underlines the various structural social ills facing the vast majority of rural people in the region. Lack of own land to till leads to the physical, economic and cultural dislocation of countless peasant and indigenous communities,” read the unity statement adopted by the participants at the end of the meeting. (see the Unity statement here)

YCW-2016-pr

The groups noted that landlessness forces the rural youth to become tenant farmers under exploitative relations, waged agricultural laborers with cheap wages, or migrants vulnerable to various abuses, with young rural women particularly exposed to trafficking and sexual abuse. The youth are also deprived of education, health and other basic social services.

“Education and cultural identity are central to the holistic development of the youth. But poverty and lack of economic opportunities due to landlessness, coupled with abandonment and neglect of governments, deprive the youth of education,” the groups said. “Meanwhile, the kind of education given to the youth promotes individualism, colonial mentality, and subservience to the interest of the market instead of the development agenda and aspirations of the people. Cultural identity and traditional knowledge are systematically eroded to transform the youth as slaves of global monopoly capitalism,” the participants added.

To substantially address the issues facing the rural youth, the participants stressed the need to join the global people’s movement advancing genuine agrarian reform and food sovereignty, and the promotion of people’s collective rights to land and life. The groups noted that the rural youth’s “energy, vitality, enthusiasm, creativity, and commitment” would make them a major contributor to the said movement.

The youth activists resolved to strengthen international solidarity to press on the agenda of the rural youth, including through establishing a network of rural youth groups and advocates that will advance genuine agrarian reform and food sovereignty. A separate planning meeting for a global assembly of rural youth in 2017 was held after the consultation-workshop.

Co-organized by PAN Asia Pacific (PANAP) and the Asian Peasant Coalition (APC), with Philippine-based rural youth and peasant groups NNARA-Youth (National Network of Agrarian Reform Advocates), SINAGBAYAN and KMP- Peasant Movement of the Philippines, the consultation-workshop was held on 16-18 July at the MangaRita Organic Farm in Capas town, Tarlac province, about 120 kilometers north of the capital Manila. ###

Contact: Marjo Busto, marjo.busto@panap.net

Rural youth, advance the people’s rights to land and life! Fight for genuine agrarian reform and food sovereignty!

Unity statement issued by participants of the Youth consultation workshop on enhancing youth participation in rural issues, struggles and alternatives, 16-18 July 2016, MangaRita Organic Farm, Capas, Tarlac, Philippines

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We believe that landlessness underlines the various structural social ills facing the vast majority of rural people in the region. Lack of own land to till leads to the physical, economic and cultural dislocation of countless peasant and indigenous communities. To survive, many are forced to sell their labor very cheaply as farm workers or migrate to urban areas for odd jobs with incomes that do not afford them a decent living.

Worse, the concentration of land in the hands of a few continues to intensify under neoliberal globalization. In complicity with national governments and international financial institutions, big local and foreign business interests are grabbing away land, water and other resources, including through public-private partnerships (PPPs), from local communities resulting to greater poverty and hunger in the rural areas. Corporate plantations are aggressively expanding and in the process do not only grab away lands but also poison the people and the environment with their agrochemical-intensive and unsustainable farming systems. These agrochemicals include even those that are already banned in industrialized countries and dumped in poor countries.

In addition, extreme weather events brought about by climate change make farming even more challenging and difficult, thus further aggravating the plight of farmers and resource-dependent communities.

Indeed, it is the biggest irony that those who directly produce food are among the world’s hungriest and most food insecure as a handful of landlords, local elites, and corporations accumulate wealth from the poverty and displacement of farmers and indigenous peoples.

We note that the realities of landlessness, land grabbing, and relentless neoliberal onslaught in agriculture in the region exploit and oppress the rural youth in various ways. At a young age, the rural youth become unpaid laborers in haciendas and plantations to help their families make both ends meet. When they themselves become tenant farmers or plantation workers, they suffer the exploitative production relations with landlords, local elites, or corporations. When they migrate to urban centers or to other countries in desperation to look for better economic opportunities, they become even more vulnerable being away from their families at an early age. Rural women youth are particularly exposed to trafficking, sexual harassment and prostitution.

Education and cultural identity are central to the holistic development of the youth. But poverty and lack of economic opportunities due to landlessness, coupled with the sheer abandonment and neglect of governments to provide education for its people under neoliberal globalization, deprive the rural youth of access to education. Meanwhile, the kind of education being peddled by neoliberal globalization promotes individualism, colonial mentality and subservience to the interest of the market instead of the development agenda and aspirations of the people, including the promotion of agriculture for national industrialization and food sovereignty. Cultural identity and traditional knowledge are systematically eroded to transform the youth as slaves of global monopoly capitalism.

We also take notice, with utmost urgency, how the rural people, including the youth and children, become victims of human rights atrocities and repression being carried out by state and private security forces to protect and expand corporate interests in the rural areas.

In the face of such huge challenges, we, the rural youth, as members of families and communities of rural people; and collectively the inheritor of the future we choose to forge today, demand:

  1. The implementation of genuine agrarian reform through the free distribution of land to the landless, and dismantling the land monopoly of landlords and corporations.
  2. The promotion of food sovereignty or the power of the people and their communities, including the rural youth, to assert and realize their right to food and to define their own food systems.
  3. An end to land grabbing being carried out through the expansion of agricultural plantations, implementation of so-called “development” projects under public-private partnerships, etc. to enable the rural population to enjoy the fruits of their labor and have a degree of economic security.
  4. The promotion of and support for farmer-centered agricultural research and development, including adequate and reliable state support in infrastructure and other services as part of a genuine agrarian reform program, to ensure sufficient livelihood and decent employment opportunities for rural people and end forced migrations.
  5. The promotion of just wages and safe labor conditions that will allow the rural youth, including migrant workers, and others engaged in waged agricultural work and their families to achieve decent living standards.
  6. The preservation and promotion of indigenous, traditional, and collective culture and knowledge among the rural youth.
  7. The democratization of access to education, which sufficiently discusses the important role of sustainable agriculture in the comprehensive and appropriate development of national economies responsive to the immediate and long-term needs of its people.
  8. The delivery of sufficient basic social services and safety net programs to the rural areas, including health and medical services for young rural women; and expose bogus social protection programs, which merely serves to obscure landlessness and other fundamental causes of rural poverty.
  9. The protection of the environment and people’s health by promoting organic and agro-ecological farming, climate-resilient agriculture, and safe food as opposed to corporate, chemical-intensive agriculture.
  10. An end to state-sponsored political persecution and human rights violations against rural people, including the youth, who are defending and asserting their collective rights to land and livelihood; make accountable all those responsible for the abuses; and assist the families of the victims.

We vow to use various strategies to push forward our demands, including through grassroots education, organizing and mobilization; policy advocacy; research and documentation; cultural work and advocacy; exchange programs; alliance building; coordinated regional and global actions; and maximizing information and communication technology, among others.

As youth activists and advocates, we firmly believe in the energy, vitalitity, enthusiasm, creativity and commitment of the rural youth to become leading participants in the movement to defend the people’s collective rights to land and life, for genuine agrarian reform and for food sovereignty.

Rural youth rise now! Assert people’s rights and food sovereignty! Fight for genuine agrarian reform!