On December 3rd through 6th, 2011 in Bangalore, India, a Permanent People’s Tribunal (PPT) will convene to indict the Agrochemical Transnationals; Monsanto, Dow, Bayer, Syngenta, DuPont, and BASF for gross violations of human rights. The cases were brought by farmers, agricultural workers, Indigenous peoples, fisher folk, women, children and youth, scientists, consumers and activists. “Whether as individuals or as a community, the Complainants are victims and survivors of gross, widespread, and systematic human rights violations by agrochemical TNCs.”
Although the Tribunal cannot force sanctions on the companies, the cases will be heard to raise awareness of the large-scale human rights abuses. “They are accused of violating more than 20 instruments of international human rights law through promoting reliance on the sale and use of dangerous and unsafe pesticides including endosulfan, paraquat and neonicotinoids”.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO) there is an estimated 355,000 deaths each year from unintentional toxic chemical poisoning, many of these from use or exposure to pesticides and other agrochemicals. “Pesticides Action Network (PAN) International, a global network comprised of 600 organizations in 90 countries, has spent years collecting information to bring about the indictments and is seeking justice for more than 25 specific cases – such as Silvino Talavera, an 11-year-old from Paraguay who died days after breathing in a cloud of Monsanto’s RoundUp herbicide sprayed by a crop duster.
The trial will also hear evidence of the link between pesticide use and a decline in bees.” These corporations, also known as the ‘Big 6’, are massive and incredibly powerful. They control 74 per cent of the global pesticide market and also dominate the global seed market. When being contacted by The Ecologist, Monsanto, Syngenta, and Dow were unavailable for comment and Bayer rejects all allegations. The verdict is to be delivered on December 6th 2011 and it is hoped that this will lead to “greater discussions at UN institutions on holding agrochemical corporations accountable for crimes relating to the impact of their products.”
Lee, Matilda. Monsanto, Bayer, and Dow face trial for ‘systematic human rights abuses’. The Ecologist. November 18th, 2011. <http://www.theecologist.org/News/news_analysis/1122020/monsanto_bayer_and_dow_face_trial_for_systematic_human_rights_abuses.html>
Permanent People’s Tribunal Session in Agrochemical Transnational Corporations. Agricorporate Accountability. nd.
Student Researcher: Kimberly Soeiro, Sonoma State University
Faculty Evaluator: Peter Phillips Ph.D., Sonoma State University