The Monsanto Tribunal and the People’s Assembly were held in The Hague from 14th to 16th October 2016.
Over the last century giant agribusiness interests which came out of the war industry have poisoned life, our ecosystems, destroyed our biodiversity and pushed farmers off the land. As these corporations become bigger, they gain more power, more immunity and more rights.
Using free trade neoliberal policies and deregulation of commerce to enlarge their empires, these corporations are attacking life on earth and biodiversity. They have broadened their control over our seed, our food and freedom, robbing us of our human rights and democracy. They have established monopolies and threatened farmers’ rights to seed and people’s rights to affordable medicine through patents and IPRs.
Across the world people are rising, democratic governments are responding to stop this ecocide and genocide. These giants have responded by attacking laws and policies of governments that take action in response to people’s movements and call to protect the earth and people’s rights.
The process of holding the Poison Cartel accountable for its crimes is the culmination of 30 years of scientific, legal, social, and political work by movements, concerned citizens and scientists. Since the ground for the tribunal was laid by the movement, a parallel People’s Assembly was created to allow for movements from across the world to gather together, sharing problems, political strategies and visions of the future for a sustainable agriculture. This is the coalition that has got together to organize the Monsanto Tribunal and People’s Assembly.
The Tribunal aimed to synthesize the existing crimes and violations for which Monsanto is in courts across the world— in India, Europe, US, Mexico, Argentina, as well as to expand the scope of criminal activity to include the crime of ecocide, the violation of the rights of nature. The judges will issue an advisory opinion, they will verify whether Monsanto’s activities are in compliance with the laws as they exist in the UN, along with other legal instruments. It is an educational tribunal, that can influence international human rights law.
The People’s Assembly was a gathering of movements, seed savers, seed defenders, farmers and growers and civilians to address the crimes against nature and against humanity perpetrated by chemical and biotechnology corporations. The People’s Assembly included different aspects of the movements defending the corporate assault as well as positive people’s stories of the movements building the alternative.
After listening to witnesses and lawyers from the Tribunal, as well as to organizations, farmers, activists and common citizens from the People’s Assembly, the evidence is clear: “The poison cartel, which includes toxic makers such as Monsanto, Bayer, Dow, DuPont, and the like, are together destroying both our bread and our freedom. They are corrupting governments, violating nations’ sovereignty and imposing on our planet a model of greed, poison and corruption”. Monsanto and the Poison Cartel are guilty of crimes against our planet and against humanity. This is the verdict from the People’s Assembly stated in the final press release.
Dr Vandana Shiva: “If you consider the attack on nature and the rights of nature that’s what’s called ecocide. If you take attacks on human beings in large numbers knowing that you chemicals will cause disease, knowing that your patents and royalties collection will create debt and farmers will commit suicide, in the UN definition that is called genocide.”
Andre Leu: “The reason why we have a People’s Assembly as well as the Tribunal is because while the Tribunal is a proper legally constituted trial, the real punishment is the one of public opinion.”
Nnimmo Bassey: “Coming to the People’s Assembly and the Monsanto tribunal is very important for me because we are going to build a platform for actually getting people to stand for their own rights and to fight against industrial toxic agriculture based on genetically engineered crops and toxic chemicals.”
Marie-Monique Robin: “This is really like a nightmare to be quite frank. When you see how toxic these products are and what Monsanto did to maintain its products on the market, it is really very difficult to believe. Along with the total lack of sense of responsibility and the impunity that is going on.”
Hans Herren: “Good food, quality food for the long term it’s absolutely not in the picture of these corporations. It is actually a scandal and it’s very tragic that short term profit – and the example is in all these mergers – trumps over long term sustainability and survival for humanity. We know for sure that we can produce enough quality and diverse food to nourish a populations of 10 billion with sustainable agriculture practices”
Ronnie Cummins: “Now we’ve got these massive corporations like Monsanto who are trying to control everything, including our food, our health and if we work together internationally, we can make it, we can be much more powerful.”