Towards a New Era: Monsanto Tribunal

Towards a New Era: Monsanto Tribunal

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In this newsletter we share: the failure of Bt cotton in India and Dicamba in the USA, the European battle for glyphosate, some news from the Court's witnesses, the creation of the NGO “Pesticides Justice” and the documentary “ making of about the Monsanto Tribunal ”.

2017 has been the year of great and growing opposition to Monsanto and the poisonous companies trying to control our food system. The legal opinion raised by the Monsanto Court was a highlight. For the first time, Monsanto victims from around the world came together and convinced a panel of international judges that the company is violating basic human rights. We failed to stop the reauthorization of glyphosate in the European Union, but instead of getting a green light for a 15-year period, Monsanto obtained a 5-year permit. France and Italy are discussing the possibility of eliminating the herbicide for three years. An impressive 1.5 million people signed on to the citizens' initiative, and discussions of Monsanto's behavior made the news in many countries. A court case of glyphosate victims in the United States led to the release of the "Monsanto papers" that show that Monsanto is manipulating science, the press and politics. More documents and evidence of Monsanto's misconduct will be released in spring 2018.

Meanwhile, Monsanto's "ATMs" are paralyzed. The introduction of their new resistant GM crops Dicamba turned into a disaster as 3.6 million acres of crops (1.5 million hectares) are damaged by the spread of pesticides. More than 1,000 farmers in the US are already suing the company for the damages. The new generation of Bt crops supposedly fighting insects has failed in India. Resistance to weeds and insects is nature's response to these crops.

Monsanto is trying to hide these failures by intervening in other fields of destruction. They are trying to better control agricultural data in order to have even more control over the food system. It will likely merge with Bayer to increase control and try to hide the company's ambiguous image. However, Bayer is buying a Trojan horse. Monsanto's stock value is massively overvalued as both techniques that Ogm's income model relies on are failing. More and more people, farmers and consumers, see that we have to change the food system to stop ecocide. A German study shows that insect populations in nature reserves have decreased by 75% in the last 27 years. This caused shock waves throughout the entire planet. Humans cannot survive if they kill all life around them, and they have to work with nature rather than fight it. The era of highly toxic, fossil fuel dependent, soil and resource depleting chemical agriculture must come to an end, leaving room for agroecology to flourish. The sooner the paradigm of agriculture changes, the better.

The battle of glyphosate in Europe

The European permit for the world's best-selling herbicide glyphosate expired in December 2017. The Commission of the European Union proposed its renewal for another 15 years. This caused a storm of protests. The proposal was based on reports from the food authority EFSA and the German BfR which proved highly biased. Some of the text was even a pasted copy of a Monsanto lobbyist, theTask force about glyphosate. The process shows that industry lobbies have been very successful in creating an industry-friendly environment. The criteria for the evaluation of adopted scientific studies exclude all independent studies. This led EFSA to dismiss 106 studies as “non-compliant”. Instead, they based their advice on secret industry studies that cannot be independently verified. It can be verified that for Monsanto glyphosate is safe and that all the studies that say otherwise "are not scientific". Like the food safety regulations of the European Union (and possibly the US It can be even worse).

Many people were furious. More of1.3 million Europeans signed a citizens' initiative calling for a ban on glyphosate. As this process has exposed the biased role of the institutions of the European Union, their credibility is seriously undermined. It has shown that the pesticide approval system has to change, but at the moment it is unfortunately too late for glyphosate.

The European Union Parliament called for a three-year phase-out to help farmers change their production system. However, the decision is the mandate of the Council of Member States and the European Commission. A vote of the Member States did not obtain a qualified majority: major countries such as France and Italy opposed a 10-year renewal. In the last round of voting for a 5-year renewal, no qualified majority was expected from the Member States. In such a case, the Commission would have had the last word and would have given the green light to a five-year extension. But this was not necessary as a surprise change from Germany created a majority. Against the will of his colleague the Minister of the Environment, the Minister of Agriculture Christian Schmidt ordered a positive vote. Apparently the long arm of Bayer-Monsanto reaches out to the German government. "This is a scandal, a slap in the face to the environment and consumers," declared a parliamentarian.

Although the German vote is disputed, most people say it cannot be undone. Now legal specialist Olivier de Schutter believes there is a way. At a press conference on December 12, four European Union parliamentarians announced that they will launch a legal procedure to annul the vote. Whatever the outcome, glyphosate will now be outpaced in several countries over the next 3-5 years. Too late, but much better than "toxic businessas asual”.

The Dicamba disaster: Monsanto's dead child?

Monsanto's business success is based on the combination of seeds and herbicides. Millions of hectares in the world are covered with Monsanto Roundup crops: soybeans, corn, D, canola, cotton, etc. Both the seeds and the herbicide glyphosate are sold by Monsanto and generate huge profits. However, weeds have increased their resistance to Roundup and commercial success is fading. A new generation of herbicides was supposed to counter this problem, but no new herbicide was found and instead they had to go back to an older and possibly more toxic herbicide: Dicamba. It was introduced in 1963 and Monsanto signed a production agreement with BASF. Billions of dollars have been invested in testing and commercializing new Dicamba resistant crops. Apart from its toxicity to plants, humans and soil, there is another problem: its diffusion. The poison is carried by the wind and causes death or serious damage to trees and other crops that are not genetically modified to resist Dicamba. Many farmers have lost part of their crops. As a result, individual and class action lawsuits have been filed against BASF and Monsanto in more than two dozen of the United States. In 2017, Dicamba drift damaged more than 3.6 million hectares of crops in 25 states. This could become a very costly matter for Monsanto. Worse for them, it could be a major setback for chemical farming.

Bt technical failure

It's not just weeds that are defeating Monsanto and biotech warfare. A small, thin grayish moth is wreaking havoc in the cotton fields of India: its larva, a caterpillar - called a pink worm for its pink stripe - eats the plant. To eradicate this pest from cotton, a gene for a bacterium was introduced into cotton so that the Bt plant would produce a toxin that would kill the insect. When GM cotton seeds were introduced to the Indian market 15 years ago, the seed companies said that farmers would not have to spray any insecticides and that they would get large yields. Today, due to the same transgenic seeds, the use of insecticides and fertilizers has increased fivefold and farmers' income has increased fivefold. Resistance to the poison could not occur according to the creators of the transgenic plants. Nature thought otherwise. A huge outbreak of resistant Bt worm has severely damaged many farmers' crops. Desperate farmers apply highly toxic pesticides to combat the pest, sometimes with lethal effects.

Dr. K.R. Kranthi, former director of the Central Institute for Cotton Research (ICRC), reported that the pink worm has developed resistance to Bt cotton (variety Bollgard-II) not only in Maharashtra, but also in other cotton-producing states. Bollgard-II was introduced in 2010. There are only two benefits of Bt cotton. One, it controls the cotton bollworm, so the yield is protected. Second, it reduces the use of insecticides to control worms. "Currently, cotton growers are not making any profit," said Dr. Kranthi.

Veteran farmer leader Pasha Patel says: "For Maharashtra cotton farmers, it is like a night without dawn." Another transgenic technology is failing. Follow the latest developments on the GMWatch website and Twitter.

NGO Justice Pesticides

One of the results of the Monsanto Court was the creation of the Pesticides Justice NGO in July 2017. Its objective is to make legal data on pesticide cases from around the world available to everyone, regardless of the status or nationality of people: neighbors, farmers, local authorities and communities, scientists… Pesticide victims are, of course, the first on that list. The organization is chaired by Corinne Lepage. It has members of the committee of the Monsanto Tribunal organization and people from all continents who have faced the consequences of pesticides on their health, natural resources or their activities.

Pesticide Justice's goal is to create a broad collaborative network to gather pesticide-related legal action data from around the world. In this way, legal and scientific information will foster future demands. Eventually, Justicia Pesticides aspires to ban pesticides that threaten human health and the environment.

Monsanto Court Witness News

The Grataloup family

Sabine Grataloup was the first person to testify during Monsanto's court hearings in October 2016. She described the birth defects suffered by her son Theo after being exposed to a glyphosate-based herbicide early in her pregnancy. The encounter with other witnesses in similar situations motivated Theo's parents to go one step further. Together with William Bourdon (a lawyer for the Monsanto Court who promotes the freedom indispensable for scientific research), Sabine and Thomas Grataloup have announced their intention to initiate legal action against several manufacturers of glyphosate-based herbicides, including Monsanto. They want the court system to recognize a causal link between those products and Theo's issues. They are now investigating the different legal options to do so, and are preparing for a difficult but necessary legal battle.

This French peasant became embroiled in a long legal fight against Monsanto after being poisoned in 2014 with Lasso (a now banned herbicide). Before the Monsanto Court judges, he described the harassment he suffered from the company. Paul François recently published the book “A Peasant Against Monsanto” to tell his story in detail. Unfortunately, he now has to go back to court to try to obtain financial compensation from Monsanto. Paul François has launched a crowdfunding campaign that needs to be able to continue this grueling battle.

Call for support: Monsanto Tribunal “Making-of”

Film director and writer Marie-Monique Robin was the godmother of the Monsanto Court. In his latest documentary and eponymous book "Roundup on Trial," he follows several victims and glyphosate experts among those who came to testify before the Monsanto Court judges, and provides an understanding of the mechanisms of one of the biggest environmental scandals. and health in modern history. The film was broadcast on the Franco-German television channel Arte, on RTBF (Belgium), RTS and RSI (Switzerland), NRK (Norway), RTP1 (Portugal) and soon in Canada and Poland. It is available in French and German on the Arte website.

In addition, Marie-Monique madea second documentary, “The International Monsanto Tribunal” that tells the story of this extraordinary project from the first press conference in Paris in December 2015, during COP21, until the delivery of the advisory opinion of the judges in April 2017: actions to mobilize to international civil society, debates on legal issues (status, objectives and functioning of the Tribunal, crime of ecocide ...), financial issues, investigation of victims and experts, meetings with the five international judges, hearings, etc. Eastmaking ofof the documentary is freely accessible on the Internet. Its objective is to be an information and awareness tool for a wide public, but especially aimed at lawyers, defenders of human and environmental rights, as well as schools and universities.

To finish this film in five languages ​​(English, French, Spanish, French, German and Portuguese), the Monsanto Tribunal Foundation would need € 20,000. Please make a donation now if you can. Thank you very much!

Source: Monsanto Court

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