Letter: Monsanto tribunal begins

Don’t hold your breath to hear about the results of the tribunal in the news. It will likely be put on the back pages, writes Peter Brown.

On Oct. 14, the International Monsanto Tribunal will begin in The Hague, Netherlands.

Lasting for three days, the public trial in front of five internationally renowned judges will hear from 30 witnesses and experts from five continents, including people who have been harmed by Monsanto’s products.

In the last century, the Monsanto Corporation, which began as a chemical company, now involved in agribusiness, most well known for its Round-up Ready crop system, has poisoned people, destroyed biodiversity and polluted the environment. Citizens around the world are saying “Enough is enough.”

The aim of the tribunal is to provide victims and their legal counsels the arguments and legal grounds for further lawsuits against Monsanto and other agribusiness corporations on the basis of the environmental and health damages these companies have caused.

The tribunal will also show why the crime of ecocide, (the destruction of the natural environment) must be recognized under international law.

Until now, world governments and courts have failed to hold Monsanto accountable for the true impact of their actions. nd when charges have been brought in domestic courts, Monsanto typically spends enormous amounts of money on legal defense—or it settles out of court. That’s why civil society organizations are coming together to hold Monsanto accountable.

Although this tribunal will likely be looked upon by the corporate world as a joke, it brings me back to the “above the law of the land” tribunals that are a part of trade agreements such as NAFTA and the proposed TPP (Trans Pacific Partnership).

In those agreements, the ISDS (Investor State Dispute Settlement) clause sets out the ability of a corporation to bring a suit against a country whose laws may cause a corporation to lose profit or potentially lose profit.

The case is brought before a tribunal that sits above any court in the world, and who can pass judgements against the “offending” country that can be in the millions of dollars. Currently, TransCanada Pipeline is suing the U.S. government for $15 billion (not million) for the cancelation of the Keystone XL pipeline under the NAFTA ISDS.

We live in a world that is so corporately oriented: our governments are no longer interested in public service, they are bent on corporate service to the detriment of the public good.

Don’t hold your breath to hear about the results of the Monsanto Tribunal in the news. It will likely be put on the back pages, if anywhere at all.

I would encourage readers to go to the internet to check it out at www.monsanto-tribunal.org.

Please note that part of this article was supplied by the Food Revolution Network, with permission to share.

– Peter Brown, Grand Forks