On October 14–16, 2016, representatives from over 800 organizations representing 30 nations convened at The Hague, Netherlands for The Monsanto Tribunal.
This international civil society gathering shared testimonies from farmers, families, scientists, business owners, and global organizations that shed light on the global impacts of Monsanto’s introduction of genetically engineered, corporate-patented agriculture.
The goal of the Tribunal was to identify the necessary actions for a future that safeguards the rights of small farmers to choose, save, and exchange seed, safeguards the rights of consumers to self-determine their food, safeguards the rights of workers in the agricultural sector, all while preserving our global ecology and the environment.
Eminent judges heard testimonies from victims, and are currently working on developing an advisory opinion following procedures of the International Court of Justice.
Rachel Parent, Canada’s 17-year-old environmental youth activist and founder of Kids Right to Know, was asked to speak and participate in a distinct and parallel event called People’s Assembly, held in tandem with the Tribunal.
This event represented an unprecedented gathering of social movements from all over the world that exchanged ideas and planned for the future we want.
Rachel’s background as a strong mandatory GMO labeling advocate, along with her ongoing involvement with world leaders in the food safety movement, including Dr. Gilles-Eric Séralini, Dr. Vandana Shiva, Jeffery Smith of the Institute of Responsible Technology, and Dr. Jane Goodall, provide valuable perspective throughout the event.
Following the procedures of the International Court of Justice, the judges are now thoroughly reviewing the evidence from legal briefs and witness testimonies to answer the six questions posed in the Tribunal’s terms of reference. They anticipate presenting their legal advisory opinion no later than Spring 2017 that holds Monsanto morally, legally, and financially accountable.
“We will try to deliver the legal opinion before December 10th , the International Day of human Rights. It will be addressed to Monsanto and to the United Nations. From this legal opinion, other jurisdictions can be involved and more judges will step in. We, as the judges [at the Monsanto Tribunal] have seen, heard, noted and deliberated. Chances are that the international law will take into consideration new issues such as the ones related to ecocide.” – Judge Tulkens
Monsanto Misses the Point
Although Monsanto was invited to the Tribunal, they decided not to appear. Instead, they issued a statement in 5 languages saying that that the Tribunal is ‘pushing’ the wrong issues, since the real discussion is about “feeding the world.”
Unfortunately, Monsanto failed to realize that feeding the world in a safe way was exactly the topic of the Tribunal, and discussed at length by farmers, consumer movements, and their associated networks in the parallel People’s Assembly.
Although Monsanto recently lost their battle for the acceptance of glyphosate (pesticide) in Europe, the corporation is currently planning a merger with Bayer that will result in one of the world’s largest agrichemical companies, furthering Monsanto’s dominance and control of global agriculture.