For more than a century, a poison cartel has experimented with and developed chemicals to kill people, first in Hitler’s concentration camps and the war, later by selling these chemicals as inputs for industrial agriculture.
In a little over half a century, small farmers have been uprooted everywhere, by design, further expanding the toxic fields of the industrial agriculture.
In India, a country of small farmers, the assault of the poison cartel has driven millions off the land and pushed 300,000 farmers to suicide due to debt for costly seeds and chemicals. The GMO seeds have failed to control pests and weeds. Instead they are creating super-pests and super-weeds, trapping farmers deeper in debt.
And it is not just farmers who are dying. Our soil organisms and pollinators are dying. Our soils are dying. Our societies are dying. Our children are dying—because of diseases caused by food loaded with toxics.
The introduction of GMOs, by the Poison Cartel, has accelerated the crisis of disease and death. The only reason GMOs are forcibly introduced is to claim patents on seeds – to collect royalties from every farmer, every season, every year. In India more than Rs 50 Billion has illegally been collected by Monsanto, from the cotton farmers of India. Within a few years of illegally entering India, Monsanto started to control 95% of the cotton seed supply. Most of the 300,000 farmers suicides are in the cotton belt.
A patent of life and on seeds is a crime against farmers—who are trapped in debt for costly patented seed.
It is also a crime against nature. The claim, that by adding a gene Monsanto is “making” life, violates the self organising, self-renewing capacity of seed. The crime is further aggravating by pushing out bio-diversity, and spreading genetic pollution through the introduction of GMOs.
These issues are in courts everywhere.
We are now organizing a Monsanto Tribunal, and People’s Assemblies across the world, to put the Poison Cartel on trial at the Hague (14th to 16th October). Alongside the Tribunal People’s Assemblies are being self organised by local communities everywhere.
The Tribunal will both synthesize the existing crimes and violations for which Monsanto+Bayer is in courts across the world— in India, Europe, US, Mexico, Argentina, as well as expand the scope of criminal activity to include the crime of ecocide, the violation of the rights of nature.
Crimes against nature are connected to crimes against humanity.
Corporate crimes have become visible everywhere, the corporations become bigger, claiming absolute power, absolute rights, absolute immunity, deploying more violent tools against nature and people. The People’s Assembly will not just take stock of the past and present crimes. It will look at future crimes with the aim of preventing them. Monsanto is now becoming Monsanto Bayer. Syngenta is merging with Chem China. Dow has merged with Dupont. Movements from India, China, Germany, Switzerland challenging these mergers will be addressing the People’s Assembly and planning future actions.
The process of holding the Poison Cartel accountable is the culmination of 30 years of scientific, legal, social, political work by movements, and concerned citizens and scientists. This is the coalition that has got together to organize the Monsanto Tribunal and People’s Assembly.
The chemical corporations had expected to take over all seed by the year 2000, through GMOs, patents, mergers and acquisitions. But most seed is not genetically modified, most countries do not recognize seeds and plants as corporate inventions, hence patentable. Monsanto’s crimes have become so well known that it now wants to disappear itself through the Bayer acquisition. The Movements against Monsanto have already won. Now we need to shut down the poison cartel.
While GMOs fail, a new generation of genetic engineering based on CRISPR, gene editing, gene drives is being promoted to grab more patents and wreck the planet faster for the benefit of a few toxic billionaires.
And because we built movements to stop “free trade” through WTO—such as the mobilizations in Bangalore, Seattle, Cancun and Hong Kong—corporations are now pushing new free trade agreements, such as TTIP and TPP. The Investor State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) systems in the new agreements are aimed at dismantling our constitutions, our rights, and our democracies.
Corporate rule over the past two decades has led to an economy where 1% of the rich control as much wealth as 99% of humanity. More accumulation of wealth through corporations will lead to the extermination of most people, as their lands and livelihoods, their resources and democracies, are grabbed for profits and control.
The Monsanto Tribunal and People’s Assemblies organised in the Hague are already having repercussions in the International Criminal Court. Since 2002 when the court was set up by the United Nations, it has largely investigated war crimes and genocide linked to conflicts. The court has jurisdiction over the 124 countries which have ratified the Rome statute. It is now widening its remit, to look at destruction of the environment and violation of people’s rights to their resources. The court will also prioritize crimes that result in the “destruction of the environment,” “exploitation of natural resources,” and the “illegal dispossession” of land. It also included an explicit reference to land-grabbing.
The ICC’s policy paper on case selection and prioritization declares: “The office [of the prosecutor] will give particular consideration to prosecuting Rome statute crimes that are committed by means of, or that result in, inter alia, the destruction of the environment, the illegal exploitation of natural resources or the illegal dispossession of land.”
Patents on seeds are an illegal exploitation of natural resources which have pushes hundreds of thousands of Indian farmers to suicide. This is a crime worth investigating, and ending.
While courts can investigate crimes of the poison cartel, and this is important for justice, people have the power to change the way we grow our food. That is why hundreds of People’s Assemblies, being organized everywhere, will make commitments to create a healthy future of food and of the planet. From the People’s Assemblies we will launch a boycott campaign, to liberate our seeds and soils, our communities and societies, our planet and ourselves, from poisons and the rule of the poison cartel.
Dr. Vandana Shiva is a philosopher, environmental activist and eco feminist. She is the founder/director of Navdanya Research Foundation for Science, Technology, and Ecology. She is author of numerous books including, Soil Not Oil: Environmental Justice in an Age of Climate Crisis; Stolen Harvest: The Hijacking of the Global Food Supply; Earth Democracy: Justice, Sustainability, and Peace; and Staying Alive: Women, Ecology, and Development. Shiva has also served as an adviser to governments in India and abroad as well as NGOs, including the International Forum on Globalization, the Women’s Environment and Development Organization and the Third World Network. She has received numerous awards, including 1993 Right Livelihood Award (Alternative Nobel Prize) and the 2010 Sydney Peace Prize.