Monsanto–Guilty!–Part 5

By providing Agent Orange, between 1962 and 1973, more than 70 million liters of Agent Orange (containing dioxin) were sprayed on approximately 2.6 million hectares of land. This defoliating chemical has caused serious harm to health in the Vietnamese civilian population. And the harm caused to American, New Zealand, Australian and Korean veterans has lead to court cases and to the recognition of Monsanto’s responsibility, among others. Because of the current state of international law and the absence of specific evidence, the Tribunal cannot give any definitive answer to the question it was asked. Nevertheless, it seems that Monsanto knew how its products would be used and had information on the consequences for human health and the environment. The Tribunal is of the view that, would the crime of Ecocide be added in International law, the reported facts could fall within the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court (ICC).

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Monsanto–Guilty!–Part 4

The Tribunal concludes that Monsanto’s conduct is negatively affecting the right to freedom indispensable for scientific research. Conduct such as intimidation, discrediting independent scientific research when it raises serious questions about the protection of the environment and public health, suborning false research reports, putting pressure on governments are transgressing the freedom indispensable for scientific research.

This abuse is exacerbated by exposure to health and accompanying environmental risks, which deprive society the possibility to safeguard fundamental rights. Taking direct measures to silence scientists or attempting to discredit their work constitutes conduct that abuses the right to freedom indispensable for scientific research and the right to freedom of expression. This negatively affects the right to information.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Monsanto–Guilty, Part 3

Question 1, as posed to the Tribunal, related to alleged infringement on the right to a healthy environment. In other words, did the Monsanto firm, by its activities, act in
conformity with the right to a safe, clean, healthy and sustainable environment, as recognized in international human rights law (Resolution 25/21 of the Human Rights
Council, of 15 April 2014), taking into account the responsibilities imposed on corporations by the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, as endorsed by the Human Rights Council in Resolution 17/4 of 16 June 2011?

The Tribunal recalls that “the right to a healthy environment” concept can be traced to the UN Conference on the Human Environment in Stockholm, 1972. With the notion that the environment is a precondition for the enjoyment of human rights, this marked the dawn of a new era in international law. Today, no less than 140 states have incorporated the right to a healthy environment into their constitutions, making it a norm of international customary law. The Special Rapporteur on Human Rights and Environment, John Knox, has identified threats on the right to a healthy environment, and established a set of requirements to protect it. The UN Human Rights Council has concluded that human rights law sets certain obligations on States to guarantee that the right to enjoy a healthy environment is respected. The Monsanto Tribunal hearings allowed for the gathering of testimonies related to various impacts on human health (especially on farmers), soils, plants, aquatic organisms, animal health and biodiversity. These testimonies also included the impacts of spraying crop protection products (herbicides, pesticides). In addition, the information collected also shed light on the impacts on indigenous communities and peoples in many countries, and on the absence of adequate information given to those concerned. Based on the above findings and to answer Question 1, the Tribunal concludes that Monsanto has engaged in practices which have negatively impacted the right to a healthy environment.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Monsanto Guilty—2!

This is another landmark victory even if it’s limited to California families after a California state judge ruled against Monsanto’s effort to keep citizens in the dark about toxic chemicals. Now, glyphosate – the main chemical in Monsanto’s RoundUp pesticide – will be included on the official list of chemicals “known to the state of California to cause cancer.” As California is viewed as a leader in environmental and public health protection, what happens in California could pave the way for labeling harmful chemicals in our food across the nation.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Monsanto–Guilty

On Tuesday April 18th the five international judges of the Monsanto Tribunal presented their legal opinion. They have come to important conclusions, both on the conduct of Monsanto and on necessary developments in international law.

The judges conclude that Monsanto has engaged in practices which have negatively impacted the right to a healthy environment, the right to food and the right to health. On top of that Monsanto’s conduct is negatively affecting the right to freedom indispensable for scientific research. These are very important and well-funded legal conclusions that can be of great help to the victims of Monsanto worldwide.

The judges also conclude that despite the development of many instruments to protect the environment, a gap remains between commitments and the reality of environmental protection. International law should be improved for better protection of the environment and include the crime of ecocide. The Tribunal concludes that if such a crime of ecocide were recognized in international criminal law, the activities of Monsanto could possibly constitute a crime of ecocide.

Finally, in the third and last part of the advisory opinion, the Tribunal focusses on the widening gap between international human rights law and corporate accountability. It strongly advises the United Nations to take action to make sure that human and environmental rights are protected by (international) laws and are not overruled by trade agreements. It should be made possible to prosecute multinational corporations in the International Criminal Court.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

A Man of No Words

A Short Story by Donal Mahoney

Virgil comes to group therapy every week in his pick-up truck with his dog, Buster, standing in the bed of the truck. The sessions are held for veterans of Korea and Vietnam. Quite a few veterans in this small town because not many males applied for deferments back then to go to college. Money for college wasn’t available and this is, after all, a farming community. In one way or another people here earn their living from the fertile land.

This week as usual Virgil gets out of his truck, flicks a cigarette away and goes in the center. He leaves Buster as usual standing untethered in the back of the truck. Not many Dalmatians around here but Virgil got him somewhere as a pup and for the last six years Buster has been coming with him to therapy once a week.

People in town think Buster is the best-behaved dog they have ever seen. He remains standing in the back of the truck in driving rain, heavy snow and even while a squirrel or two cavort tantalizingly on the ground nearby. The dog seems oblivious to distractions while he waits for Virgil to return.

Other vets in the group feel sorry for the dog in bad weather but talking to Virgil about anything doesn’t work. Over the years he has never sought nor offered comments or advice. He is a man of no words.

Every week on therapy day Virgil enters the therapy room before the session starts, looks around like he’s casing the place for interlopers, turns around and walks out. Then he goes into another room and basically repeats the performance.

In that room are women waiting to begin group therapy for domestic abuse. Virgil gives them the creeps, they admit, but he leaves the room as quickly as he comes in. He has never said nor done anything untoward.

His next stop is the table in the hallway where his best friend, Mr. Coffee, waits. He likes his black with lots of sugar.

Next Virgil heads for the room where some men play pool before therapy starts. Over in the corner there’s always a serious game of poker in progress.

Neither the pool players nor the card players look at Virgil anymore. He sips his coffee, looks around the room carefully, turns and leaves.

When the staff serves lunch, Virgil goes to the dining room, leans against the wall and watches the people eat. He has never sat down to eat.

Folks new at the center have complained about him and have been told by the regulars that Virgil is harmless but not quite right since he came back from Vietnam. It helps when they mention that he was All-State in football for the local high school before Vietnam but that was a long time ago. He didn’t go to college when he came back although a football scholarship was waiting for him.

Virgil steps outside the center every now and then, has a cigarette, sometimes two, and says hello to his dog. Then he comes back and watches the pool players again, mostly old-timers who are veterans from Korea. They don’t know Virgil was a pool shark of sorts but that was before Vietnam. Although he was in high school at the time, he used to beat many of the men. He hasn’t played pool since Vietnam.

In fact, Virgil hasn’t done much of anything since coming back except come to group therapy once a week.

During therapy, he sits in his chair for an hour, says nothing and looks around. Any time a new person is introduced he’s obviously concerned.

In the past, a few Korean vets have tried to engage Virgil in conversation but he says nothing but his name, rank and serial number. The men mean well but they came back from Korea where there was no Agent Orange. Monsanto and Dow did not provide any spray in Korea. Korea was bad for many reasons but it had nothing to do with Agent Orange, which still echoes today in veterans all over America and in the people of Vietnam.

The Vietnam vets don’t bother Virgil. They just advise any well-meaning vet from Korea to let Virgil be Virgil. If they want to help him, they suggest they make certain Mr. Coffee is ready when Virgil arrives. He asks for nothing more.

Every veteran in the group has his own coffee mug with his name on it.

Virgil’s mug has no name—just a big navel orange.

Posted in Donal Mahoney | Leave a comment

Image | Posted on by | Leave a comment