Thursday, April 20, 2017

Corporate Crimes

The “Monsanto Tribunal” of international judges presented in The Hague their legal opinion after 6 months of analysing the testimonies of more than 30 witnesses, lawyers and experts. Their conclusions are that Monsanto’s practices undermine basic human rights and  the right to a healthy environment, the right to food, the right to health, it calls for better protective regulations for victims of multinational corporations and concludes that International law should clearly assert the protection of the environment and ‘ecocide’ as a crime.  It also found that Monsanto’s conduct has seriously undermined the right to freedom indispensable for scientific research.

The Monsanto Tribunal is not only critical of the corporation’s activities throughout the world but points to further dangers of wider corporate control and monopoly ahead through mergers, acquisitions and agreements between giant corporations such as Monsanto-Bayer, Dow-Dupont, and Syngenta ChemChina which will result in a cartel of 3 giant seed/agro/chemical companies controlling our food and agriculture with further major negative impact on the rights of farmers and consumers, robbing them of their rights to seed and food sovereignty, with increased destruction of our biodiversity, pluralism and democracy, the systems that protect our food, health and livelihoods.

The Tribunal reiterated that multinationals should be held accountable for their actions and be subjected to the International Criminal Court jurisdiction in cases of infringement of fundamental rights.  Last September, the International Criminal Court declared it would prioritise crimes that result in the “destruction of the environment”, “exploitation of natural resources” and the “illegal dispossession” of land and that it would now take many crimes that have been traditionally under-prosecuted into consideration. The ICC , though not formally extending its jurisdiction, will assess existing offences, such as crimes against humanity, in a broader context. The Monsanto Tribunal confirmed how poisonous products and toxic chemicals such as Round Up (Glyphosate) & Basta (Glufosinate), neonicotinoids, atrazine, and other pesticides  have led to the destruction of soils, to desertification, to the extermination of bees, to the rise in health epidemics such as cancer, birth defects, and respiratory disease, to name just a few. They are contaminating people by polluting areas and poisoning food systems.  

This Tribunal's advisory opinion reinforces what movements, farmers, citizens all over the world have been contending for decades.The industrial model of agriculture, based on monocultures, extensive use of chemicals and genetically modified seeds, together with the economic model of free trade neoliberal policies and deregulation of commerce, is damaging our health and destroying our ecosystems, our soils, water and biodiversity and is a major contributor to climate change.  It is poisoning the Earth and millions of people, pushing small farmers off the land, allowing corporations to establish monopolies and take control of our seed and food –  while producing only a small fraction of the planet’s food.  


The findings of the Monsanto Tribunal is a moral resolution and we should not expect any genuine action to be taken even though perhaps the regulation over transnational entities may beincreased by some legislation. However, to transcend capitalism it is necessary to transcend the market and the wages system (the wages system is, of course, part of the market – the buying and selling of labour power– also known as ‘wage slavery’). It is replaced by mutual aid and free access. Socialism has no markets/money/trade/barter, etc. The two systems are totally incompatible.


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