News / 28 October 2016

“The UN have to acknowledge ecocide as a crime”

Two weeks ago, the Monsanto Tribunal took place in The Hague. With this civil tribunal, activists from all over the world aim to add 'ecocide' as a crime in international laws. Zinaba Rasmane from Burkina Faso states that "currently we can't sue multinationals like Monsanto in our country for the damage they are causing."

During the Tribunal, that took place from 14 to 16 October, witnesses from 30 countries testified against Monsanto. Among them also victims of Monsanto's genetically modified (GMO) cotton in Burkina Faso.

Monsanto makes farmers dependent on their seeds
Zinaba Rasmane, activist and member of the citizen movement Balai Citoyen, represented the Collectif Citoyen pour l'Agro-Écologie (CCAE) in the People's Assembly of the Monsanto Tribunal. He explains the problem of GMO cotton: "Cotton farmers in Burkina Faso used to be independent and autonomous. They produced what they wanted, how much they wanted and when they wanted. Also, farmers who had a good harvest would save the seeds and eventually share them with their neighbours in order to sow them next year. But Monsanto made the farmers dependent on their seeds. Monsanto persuaded the farmers to use their seeds with false promises: they said the yields would be higher, the cotton of equal quality and the harvesting and production of the cotton less labor-intensive. None of this is true. On top of that, the pesticides that are necessary to grow Monsanto's cotton caused environmental damage."

Compensation for farmers
The cotton farmers from Burkina Faso have three requests. First, Monsanto has to stop its cotton production in Burkina Faso. Second, Monsanto has to pay the farmers compensation because they lied about the advantages of their cotton. And third, Monsanto needs to pay compensation for the environmental pollution.

The farmers from Burkina Faso and the CCAE participated in the Tribunal because under the current national law, it is not possible to sue multinationals for crimes against nature (ecocides). Even though a decision from the judges of the Monsanto Tribunal has no juridical status, it can then be used to pressurize the UN to adapt international laws. Rasmane: "If the UN acknowledge that ecocide is a crime against the environment and set up international laws, we can go to our own government with these international laws and ask them to prosecute Monsanto."

Decision in December
The judges of the Monsanto Tribunal recognized that the testimonies were substantial. They will now review the evidence and present their legal advice in December 2016 or next spring.

Both ENDS is involved in the Monsanto Tribunal as a financier.


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