Richard Bruce from the Isle of Wight who has been diagnosed with organophosphate poisoning, sent news today that the world’s major agrochemical companies, Monsanto, Dow, Bayer, Syngenta, DuPont and BASF, will face a public tribunal in early December accused of systematic human rights violations. He added:
“Some of us have sent in statements for this years ago and for a long time it looked as though it was going nowhere. We have yet to see if chemicals such as the rest of the organophosphorus group (which includes glyphosate and glufosinate ammonium) will feature.
Lord Coe defends Dow Chemical
On the same day Lord Sebastian Coe defended the selection of Dow Chemical as Olympic sponsors. Dow Chemical bought Union Carbide in 2001 after its pesticide plant had leaked poisonous gas in 1984, causing the deaths of an estimated 15,000 people. He said that that Dow never owned nor operated the plant and the legal claims surrounding the ‘incident’ were resolved in 1989. This implies approval of the pittance awarded to some of the injured people, though many others have not even received that.
Dow’s involvement has prompted protests from Indian athletes, Amnesty International, the Bhopal Medical Appeal and MPs, led by Barry Gardiner, a Labour MP and Tessa Jowell, a member of the Olympics Board and former Olympics minister.
Where governments fail, the people can act
The Permanent Peoples’ Tribunal (PPT), an international opinion tribunal created in 1979, will hear expert testimony from scientists, medical doctors and lawyers to prove the charges. Victims who have been injured by these products – from farmers, farm workers, mothers and consumers from around the world – will also testify to the causes and nature of their injuries. An estimated 355,000 people are believed to die each year from unintentional pesticide poisoning, according the World Health Organization.
The cases will be heard over a four-day trial in Bangalore, India beginning on December 3rd. The Tribunal aims to expose and raise awareness of large-scale human rights violations.
The Ecologist reports that the Pesticides Action Network International, a global network of 600 organisations in 90 countries, has spent years collecting information to bring about the indictments and is seeking justice for more than 25 specific cases – such as Silvino Talavera, an 11-year-old from Paraguay who died days after breathing in a cloud of Monsanto’s RoundUp herbicide sprayed by a crop duster. The trial will also hear evidence of the link between pesticide use and a decline in bees.
The corporations, known as the ‘Big 6’, control 74 per cent of the global pesticide market, as well as dominating the global seed market.