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.

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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.

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A Beauty of Seeds–What Have You Done, Monsanto?

A Prose Piece by Nayeli Guzman as told to Beverly Bell

Damn, I should have brought my beans! I wanted to show you my collection. One of my favorites is called powami, a Hopi ceremonial bean. There’s a really beautiful one called Maine Yellow Eye, which is all white and right at the part where the bean sprouts, there’s a little yellow moon on there. There’s another one called Provider. When you put it against the sun, it looks like an oil spill from your car. Man, those beans are so beautiful.

We cooked some red Mexican beans for the harvest festival, and everyone loved them.

It’s always good to be able to give food. It’s the best, dude. We don’t think of what we’re producing in terms of money, but just in terms of health and food for our families.

Farming was in my prayers for a long time. This land is my teacher; it’s my altar. It’s at the heart of my culture. We’ve always done that. We’ve strayed so far from it that I feel we have to go back, no matter where we come from. I’m just being responsible to the struggles my ancestors went through. They fought for tierra y libertad, which means land and liberty. In fact, we’re still going through that struggle today, with our food and even our genes being colonized.

http://www.otherworldsarepossible.org/other-worlds/birthing-justice-land-my-teacher-preserving-native-agriculture-and-traditions

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AN OWL OVERLOOKING AN EMPIRE OF RUIN

A Poem by Korea Brownstein

–Based on a sculpture created by Mayo Turner while serving time for bank robbery. The three dimensional piece is made from rope, wooden sticks and velvet on a plywood frame.

Empty eyed
Tall tale signs
Broken wing
Straw heart
Stuck in a web
Dead child
Below the womb
Looking upon
Colorful moon

(For all of the children suffering from the effects of Agent Orange Monsanto, Dow Chemical and others let loose on the countryside of Viet Nam.)

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Sunset over Chemical Valley

A Poem by M. Lapin

Once I listened to a poet
(but I cannot remember her name
or the title of her poem)
who wrote lines about Cincinnati
using the Yellow Pages,
the names of corporations,
factories, the outpouring of chemical
into the early evening sky.
As I listened, I saw the sky
she saw, the setting sun,
the slow motion vibration of light
through pollution, the setting sun
caught in prisms, the end of day
wonderful with color, a drizzle
of compounds, everything
rainbowlithic. Years later a river
in that town caught fire.
So I ask you, Monsanto,
Dow Chemical, Uniroyal, can you
hear the beauty in that poem, too?
Did you see the splatter of spray
over American soldiers,
Vietnamese, the now extinct forest
wildlife and trees a display
of beauty? Did you not know
what it would cover, its effects
on people and life, the evolution
of humans to almost humans?
Did you not think the fish would change
and the water buffalo and the small peeper?
How could you not comprehend
the spread of poison down the Saigon River
into the oceans, the threads of life,
spreading its wealth into all of us?
The poet read a poem about dusk
in Cincinnati and I a poem
somewhat different, but still laden
with chemical and its rainbow of defects
that refuse to go away, but continue
until even rice might hold fire in its seed
burning its way slowly into all of us.

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2,4-D

A Poem by Gloria Stevens

2,4-D (2,4-dichlorophenoxyacetic acid) is a common herbicide found in Agent Orange developed by Monsanto and Dow Chemical and used around the home and garden.

Here is how you grow rich:
plant 2,4-D everywhere
letting it seek skin and water,
soil and everything in reach
until every seed owned
is owned by you.

Did we not see what happened
fifty years ago, the legacy
still with us, the Agent Orange
children and the Agent Orange
grandchildren–VietNam?…

Here is how we grow poor:
plant 2,4-D everywhere,
let the chemical ravage
everything until there is nothing
and then you too feel its teeth,
the saliva in its jaws.

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