People’s Court Puts Agrochemical Giants on Trial

Shruthi’s hands have only four digits, oddly splayed and disfigured. Her deformed right lower limb has been amputated. Her mother, who died of cancer six years ago, is one of an estimated 4,000 people killed by endosulfan sprayed on the cashew plantations around her village in Kerala, India.

Around the world, pesticides kill an estimated 355,000 people every year. Many more suffer debilitating illnesses, bear children with shocking disabilities, and ingest poisons through food and water, including the breast milk of nursing mothers.

In early December, the Permanent People’s Tribunal (PPT) Session on Agrochemical Transnational Corporations (TCNs) convened in Bangalore, India to hear testimony against the six companies most responsible for ongoing, massive violations of people’s rights to life, livelihood and health. The six companies on trial—Syngenta, Bayer, Dow, DuPont, BASF and Monsanto—are the top producers of agricultural chemicals.

All six were found guilty, as were the United States, Switzerland and Germany. In addition, the technology-importing states were found culpable for not pursuing less hazardous agriculture. The Tribunal also called to task international agencies such as WHO, FALO, ILO and WTO. They made recommendations to all levels and called on states to pursue criminal action against the chemical manufacturers.

The Tribunal was a fitting way to observe the anniversary of the Bhopal disaster. The 1984 explosion at a Union Carbide pesticide plant caused hundreds of thousands of injuries and led to the deaths of an estimated 25,000.

The toll of death, disease and disability continues. During four days of testimony, four technical witnesses and 15 survivors spoke of poisoned children, reproductive and other health effects, animals feminized by atrazine, declining bee populations, activists killed and injured, land and water contaminated and children exploited.

More than 7,000 people and 400 people’s organizations have endorsed the PPT Session on Agrochemical TCNs. The Tribunal’s recommendations are a blueprint for protecting human health, food sovereignty and ecological agriculture.

In spite of overwhelming evidence of human rights violations and health and environmental impacts, chemical companies have bought support among governments, scientists and farmers. It will take a global Occupy Agriculture movement to counter the insidious influence of an agricultural system concentrated in a few hands that care more about profit than the future of the planet and its people.

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Photo from Thinkstock


Terry V.
Terry V4 years ago

A Little Good News

Lisa C.
Lisa Ryan4 years ago

I've already started my own little "Occupy Agriculture"--by growing what I can in my yard and house. With organic methods. Conserving and recycling and repurposing what I can. The more I do this, the less dependent I am on big corporations. And there is a growing movement toward buying locally grown produce (what one can't grow themselves.), Using 'heirloom' vegies and saving seed, and the 'urban homesteading' movement. I consider this my civic duty for a multitude of reasons!

Eternal Gardener
Eternal G5 years ago

Someone needs to stop them!!!!

Sarah Metcalf
Sarah M5 years ago

When are people gonna get it through their heads that traditional agriculture is the best in every way--for workers, consumers, and the environment.

Jo Asprec
Jo A5 years ago

Bravo People's Court! Go, go, go! More success!

Lynne w.
Lynne wheeler5 years ago

The world will be a much better place when we can disconnect corporate donations and lobbyists from government. These chemical companies need to be held accountable for the true cost of their poisons. I am working hard to live a simpler life with healthy organic food. If we all demanded organic food, free of chemical pesticides and fertilizers, we could wrest power away from these companies who care so little about life, as long as they are making profits.

Taylor J.
Taylor J5 years ago

I find it disgusting we have to use chemicals to have "good crops" but they throw away COUNTLESS amounts of those same crops because they look disfigured/shaped differently than the others even though they are the same in edibility.

Andrea Connelly
Andrea C5 years ago

Rachel Carson, we need you, again!

Lara Kinast
Lara K5 years ago

Enough with pesticides! The health risks for humans and the planet as a whole are too much! I know we, the "little guys" have a lot more fighting to do but bit by bit policies change. And Monsanto... evil, evil, evil. Why aren't GMO foods labelled, anyhow? Thanks to everyone here for caring and helping to make a difference. Remember that every tiny act to help another helps the world as a whole and that we are all interconnected. There is no such thing as a "small act". ;)

rene davis
irene d5 years ago

the sad truth.