An international tribunal has set its sights on agricultural megacorp Monsanto. Earlier this month, judges, experts, and witnesses evaluated whether or not Monsanto’s products and agricultural practices qualify as ecocide. Here’s why this international tribunal wants to charge Monsanto with ‘Crimes Against Humanity’.
Big agriculture and cannabis
Earlier this month [October], Monsanto and Bayer announced a corporate merger. This merger will lead to the creation of one of the largest agricultural corporations in the world.
Recent speculations have drawn attention to the fact that this merger would put Bayer, a pharmaceutical and agricultural powerhouse, a few major steps closer to cannabis.
Monsanto has been historically close with Scotts Miracle-Gro for over two decades. In fact, Miracle-Gro has exclusive rights to market Monsanto’s Round-Up products. Recently, Scotts CEO Jim Hagedorn announced plans to invest “like half a billion dollars” in canna-business.
For many cannabis lovers, the prospective investment and close ties between the two corporations are cause for alarm. Yet, cannabis fans aren’t the only ones concerned about Monsanto’s role in the future of agriculture.
A civil society tribunal is taking a stand against the giant’s chemical and agricultural creations.
Civil society action against Monsanto
An international tribunal investigated the environmental and health impacts of Monsanto’s genetically-modified crops, herbicides, and pesticides on October 14-16.
A panel of five judges heard 30 experts and witnesses over the course of the tribunal. The judges will evaluate lobbying efforts used as strategies to conceal harms caused by Monsanto’s chemical products.
Under current law, there is no way to bring charges against corporations like Monsanto for environmental and public health crimes. The tribunal hopes to bring the damaged caused by Monsanto into public light and spread awareness about the corporation’s tactics.
However, no official charges or punishments will be made. Rather, advocates hope that the court’s ruling, even if only symbolic, will open doors to public justice against multinational corporations in the future. There is hope that “ecocide” will become a crime prosecuted by the ICC in the near future.
There is hope that “ecocide” will become a crime prosecuted by the ICC in the near future.
About the tribunal
The tribunal is a civil society initiative, rather than one sought out by international legal bodies. Yet, the mock trial is meant to act as a template for the future prosecution of eco-crimes. They have adopted the guiding principals of the International Court of Justice. Participating judges will evaluate Monsanto’s actions in six major areas. These include,
- Right to a healthy environment
- Right to health
- Right to Food
- Freedom of expression and academic research
- Complicity in war crimes
- Crime of ecocide
Many of Monsanto’s products have already been called into legal question. Both Agent Orange and Lasso inspired fines and lawsuits against Monsanto in certain countries.
Agent Orange is associated with countless birth defects and cancer. Lasso is an herbicide now banned in Europe. Back in 2012, a French court found Monsanto guilty of chemical poisoning after a farmer had neurological problems after Lasso exposure.
Critics of the tribunal argue that the claims against Monsanto are spurred by the special interests of the organic agriculture community. Students from Yale University, University of Bordeaux, and the University of Louvain reviewed cases and assisted in research.
Supporting organizations include food companies, the World Permaculture Association, various youth programs, and dozens of other international civil society groups.
The cannabis industry sits in a unique agricultural space. With big contenders like Scotts Miracle-Gro and Bayer-friendly GW Pharmaceuticals gaining momentum, anxiety about the future of cannabis is understandable.
Yet, the rise of cannabis as the new cash-crop of commercial agriculture is still speculation. No one can predict what the future holds. Voters across the country have worked hard to gain rights to either medical or recreational cannabis. Civil society groups continue to fight for safe and fair access to the plant.
The Monsanto Tribunal is an excellent demonstration of strength and organization from international civil society groups. Not only are ecocide and agricultural crimes now on
Not only are ecocide and agricultural crimes now on the public’s radar, but the tribunal marks a big stand for the global right to health and access to nourishing plants and foods.
With hard work, education, and activism, hopefully, these rights will one day apply to cannabis.