For an increasing number of people from around the world, Monsanto today is the symbol of industrial agriculture. This chemical-intensive form of production pollutes the environment, accelerates biodiversity loss, and massively contributes to global warming.
Since the beginning of the twentieth century, Monsanto, a US-based company, has developed a number 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 twelve 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 US 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 is used in combination with genetically modified (GM) RoundUp Ready seeds in large-scale monocultures, primarily to produce soybeans, maize and rapeseed for animal feed and biofuels.
Monsanto promotes an agroindustrial model that contributes at least one third of global anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions; it 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. This is a model that threatens peoples’ food sovereignty by patenting seeds and privatizing life.
According to its critics, 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 financing fraudulent scientific studies, by pressuring independent scientists, by manipulating the press and media, etc. The history of Monsanto would thereby constitute 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.
The Monsanto Tribunal, which will be held in The Hague from 14 to 16 October 2016, aims to assess these allegations made against Monsanto, and to evaluate the damages caused by this transnational company. The Tribunal will rely on the “Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights” adopted at the UN in 2011. It will also assess potential criminal liability on the basis of the Rome Statute that created the International Criminal Court in The Hague in 2002. The Tribunal shall also assess the conduct of Monsanto as regards the crime of ecocide, which it has been proposed to include in international criminal law. It shall examine whether the Rome Statute establishing the International Criminal Court in force since 2002 should be reformed, in order to include the crime of ecocide and to allow for the prosecution of individual and legal entities suspected of having committed this crime.
Aware of these planetary stakes, the initiators of the Monsanto Tribunal are appealing to civil society and to all citizens of the world to participate in financing this unique operation through a big international crowdfunding campaign.
Defending the safety of the planet, and the conditions of life itself, concerns us all. Only collective action can stop this machine of destruction!
The members of the steering committee:
Vandana Shiva founded Navdanya, a national movement to protect the diversity and integrity of living resources – especially native seed, the promotion of organic farming and fair trade – in 1999. She has initiated an international movement of women working on food, agriculture, patents and biotechnology called “Diverse Women for Diversity.” Time Magazine identified Dr. Shiva as an environmental “hero” in 2003, and Asia Week has called her one of the five most powerful communicators of Asia. Forbes magazine in November 2010 identified Dr. Vandana Shiva as one of the top Seven most Powerful Women on the Globe.
Corinne Lepage is a lawyer since 1975, specializing in environmental issues. Former environment minister, she was MEP (Member of tne European Parliament) from 2009 to 2014. She is Honorary President of the Independent Committee for Research and Information on Genetic Engineering ( CRIIGEN ) after having been founding president of the association to study the effects of genetic technologies for life.
Marie-Monique Robin is an award-winning journalist and author. She has directed numerous documentaries across Latin America, Africa, Europe and Asia, receiving thirty awards. She wrote the best-selling documentary (and book by the same name), “The World to According Monsanto,” which has been broadcast on fifty international television stations, and translated into 22 languages. She is the patron of the Monsanto Tribunal.
Olivier De Schutter, Co-Chair of the International Panel of Experts on Sustainable Food Systems (IPES-Food), is a Professor at the Louvain University (Belgium) and former UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food (2008-2014). He is currently a member of the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.
Gilles-Éric Séralini, professor of molecular biology since 1991, researcher at the Fundamental and Applied Biology Institute (IBFA) of the University of Caen and co-director of the pole Quality Risk and Sustainable Environment of the House of the Human Sciences Research (pole associated with the CNRS). He became particularly known to the public for his studies on GMOs and pesticides and, in particular, a toxicological study published in September 2012, driven by CRIIGEN, questioning the safety of GM maize NK 603 and Roundup health of rats.
Hans Rudolf Herren is President and CEO of the Millenium Institute and President and Founder of Biovision. He was coordinator of the Agriculture chapter of the UNEP Green Economy Report, 2011, and of the UNEP Report on the Ecological Bases of Food Security, 2012. He has been selected as a High Level participant for the UN’s High Level Consultation on Hunger, Food Security and Nutrition in the Post-2015 Development Agenda.
Arnaud Apoteker has participated in numerous Greenpeace campaigns on pesticides, protection of the Mediterranean Sea, ocean ecology, fisheries, nuclear waste and nuclear testing. In 1996, he developed a GMO campaign in France, which became one of the priority campaigns of Greenpeace France. From 2011 to 2015, he was in charge of the GMO campaign for the Greens/EFA group at the European Parliament. He wrote the book “Du poisson dans les fraises, Notre alimentation manipulée,” (Fish in the Strawberries: Our Manipulated Food).
Valerie Cabanes is a lawyer in international law with expertise in international humanitarian law and human rights law. She’s a consultant and a trainer in the people ´s security sector and in the health and social sectors. She is the spokesperson for the world citizen movement – End Ecocide on Earth – which aims to add ecocide to the list of most serious international crimes.
Ronnie Cummins is currently the International Director of the two-million member Organic Consumers Association (USA) and its Mexico affiliate, Via Organica. Cummins also serves on the steering committee of Regeneration International, a transnational NGO dedicated to reversing global warming and rural poverty. Cummins is currently serving as global coordinator for the Millions Against Monsanto Campaign. He is co-author of the book, “Genetically Engineered Food: A Self-Defense Guide for Consumers.”
Andre Leu is author of the award winning book, “The Myths of Safe Pesticides,” and the President of IFOAM Organics International, the world umbrella body for the organic sector. IFOAM Organics International has around 800 member organisations in 125 countries. He is a founding member of Regeneration International. He speaks at numerous conferences, seminars, and workshops, as well as United Nations events on every continent. He meets with governments, industry, farmers, consumers and NGOs on the multi-functional benefits of regenerative organic agriculture. Andre has written and published extensively in multiple media.
Remaining members of the organizing committee (in alphabetical order):
- Françoise Boulègue, Film editor for M2R Films.
- Tjerk Dalhuisen, Secretary of Action for Solidarity Environment Equality and Diversity.
- Luigi D’Andrea, Executive Secretary of Alliance Suisse pour une agriculture sans genie génétique.
- Esther Gerber, Biologist and member of the Forum Civique Européen.
- Benny Haerlin, Former member of the European Parliament, campaign coordinator of “Save Our Seeds” campaign.
- Hannes Lammler, Agronomist, member of the Forum Civique Européen and campaigner for Falea21-Mali.
- René Lehnherr, IT Specialist, member of the Forum Civique Européen.
- Gilles Lemaire, Member of the commission on ecology and society of Attac France.
- Michel Pimbert, Executive Director of the Centre for Agroecology, Water and Resilience at Coventry University.
- Bessie Schadee, President of Network Vital Agriculture and Nutrition and member of Gezonde Gronden (Netherlands).
- Mindi Schneider, Sociologist, Agronomist, and Assistant Professor at the International Institute of Social Studies (ISS) of Erasmus University Rotterdam in The Hague, Netherlands.
- Doro Schreier, Founder of Netzfrauen.
- Ruchi Shroff, Coordinator of Navdanya.
- François Veillerette, Spokesperson for Générations Futures, President of the Pesticide Action Network Europe.
Foundation Monsanto Tribunal