In December 2015, during a press conference in Paris held in conjunction with the COP21 United Nations Conference on Climate Change, dozens of global food, farming and environmental groups announced a Monsanto tribunal that will investigate Monsanto for its many “crimes against nature and humanity.” The trial is scheduled to take place at the International Criminal Court at The Hague on World Food Day, October 16, 2016.
A Forbes article written by Kavin Senapathy quickly bashed the notion of any Monsanto wrongdoing along with the legitimacy of the tribunal investigating the biotech giant. Although the tribunal is independent of the UN, meaning it does not have the legal authority to actually charge Monsanto, its mission is sound. Dismissing the tribunal, while upholding Senapathy’s stance of presenting scientific facts to exonerate Monsanto of any alleged crimes against humanity, is the real farce.
A Brilliant Deflection
Senapathy crafts her argument to discredit the tribunal as a pitiful sham. She warns, “Make no mistake, this is a group of organic movement proponents wielding non-GMO torches and artisan pitchforks on the hunt for a symbolic evil demon.” She cites research to rebuff the issues of food safety and to invalidate the harm caused by chemical pesticides and GMOs. But what she does not do is address the tribunal’s main concerns. Organized by advocacy groups such as the Organic Consumers Association (OCA), IFOAM International Organics, Navdanya, Regeneration International (RI), and Millions Against Monsanto, the tribunal stresses the dire statistics that are the result of Monsanto’s egregious actions. As noted on the Monsonto Tribunal website:
Monsanto promotes an agro industrial model that contributes at least one third of global anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions; it is also largely responsible for the depletion of soil and water resources, species extinction and declining biodiversity, and the displacement of millions of small farmers worldwide. This is a model that threatens peoples’ food sovereignty by patenting seeds and privatizing life.
Ecocide: A Sad Truth
Senapathy’s piece completely ignores the main issue: Monsanto’s widespread use of genetically modified seeds, which are coated with systemic pesticides, negatively impacts the environment. The article focuses instead on the long-standing debate that chemical toxins used by conventional growers are no more toxic than natural ones used by organic growers.. And instead of addressing the many health problems that have been linked to Monsanto’s introduction of GMOs to mainstream markets (thanks to ongoing research on glyphosate and conventional pesticides), it highlights one small glitch. It mentions a study on GMO corn and the growth of tumors in rats that was retracted from the Food and Chemical Toxicology journal due to the number of animals in each study group and the particular strain selected.
The Organic Consumer Association and its partners who formed the tribunal harbor no illusions. They know that Monsanto won’t face direct consequences as a result of their investigation. Their goal is to create a legal framework for prosecution. As noted in a recent Popcrunch article:
“Instead of punishing the company for its practices, the tribunal’s major goal is to establish ‘ecocide’ as a recognizable crime for the first time, setting precedent that will make it easier to charge, prosecute, and sentence similar companies in the future for these crimes against the environment.”
That might sound like a lot of effort for little gain, but when you’re going against a company as powerful as Monsanto, you have to start somewhere.
The Battle Thus Far
Little by little, the past few years have shown victories in the battle against Monsanto and other Big Agra corporations. In 2013, Mexico banned genetically engineered corn, and the County Council for the island of Kauai passed a law that mandates farms to disclose pesticide use and the presence of genetically modified crops.
Costly efforts to label GMOs in the US, including bills in California and Washington that were shot down as the flood of money flowed to Monsanto from powerful interest groups, were defeated. As senators were bribed to vote against a key GMO labeling amendment to the farm bill, Monsanto and other Big Agra companies have been sending a steady stream of high-ranking officials to the EPA, FDA, and USDA.
This infograph gives a brief history of Monsanto’s rise to its monstrous seat of power.
Clearly, Monsanto is a Goliath that will require many slingshot-wielders to take down. The tribunal is a positive step forward. Although an affirmative outcome would be primarily symbolic, its mere initiative raises consciousness and gives us hope of accountability, retribution, and a course for change in commercial agriculture.
Money Twists Truth
It’s important to remember that Big Agra corporations such as Monsanto pay good money for supposed scientists and journalists to spread lies about chemicals and GMOs to make them seem relatively harmless. And many unwitting consumers are brainwashed by these lies.
So let’s just get the facts straight, for anyone who may still be confused by Senapathy’s article in Forbes.
Kavin Senapathy’s self-proclaimed mission as a writer is to “bust myths on science, health and food, and combat quackery.” Despite the virulent march of cancer and auto-immune diseases, she’s written multiple pieces that ridicule a critical look at our food policies, our food supply, and the anti-GMO and organic food movement as a ploy to get consumers to spend more of their hard-earned cash on toxic crops.
Some natural pesticides on organic foods can be dangerous to one’s health, which is why it’s important to either grow your own or buy organic foods from local farms and farmer’s markets, where farmers can personally attest whether any pesticides have been used.
Senapathy’s piece also neglects the fact that Monsanto introduced Roundup, which has not only caused environmental harm, but has been shown to correspond to the rise of autism and diabetes and even death. Other pesticides have been linked to Parkinson’s.
To anyone who still has doubts as to whether conventional pesticides are dangerous for the environment, and ultimately the health of all creatures, watch Vanishing of the Bees.