By Ruchi Shroff, 16 October 2016
The announced merger between Bayer and Monsanto confirms the concerns and warnings by Navdanya, and its president Vandana Shiva, over the past few years. The mega $ 66 billion merger further tightens corporate control of pesticides and genetically modified seeds on our food and our right to health. Corporate interests are, however, clearly in the direction of profit at any cost and the opening of more and more markets through lobbying pressure on the democratically elected politicians for the elimination of regulatory barriers. There are those who are already betting that the announced merger between the German company Bayer and the American Monsanto will help the US to finally open Europe’s doors to genetically modified organisms, despite the principle of precaution and the will of many citizens who, in recent months, took to the streets of European capitals to say no to TTIP, the free trade agreement that has among its purposes, incidentally, to get rid of standards that ensure high quality products, especially on food, for European citizens. In short, whether the attack is at the political level, or through mega mergers, the objective of the multinationals remains the same: total control of the world’s food through subversion of the democratic order.
The future that awaits us, if these processes are not adequately and effectively thwarted, is easily predictable. And it does not take a fortune teller to paint the picture. We need just look at what happened in Argentina, one of the experimental laboratories of multinationals in the field of transgenic cultivation and pesticide use. An unacceptable human cost, as graphically portrayed by the Argentinean photographer Pablo Piovano in his award-winning exhibition that is touring the world and that will finally arrive in October at The Hague, invited by Navdanya together with Finca. The Argentine photographer’s work is an exceptional testimony that explains better than many words, the risks associated with pesticide use.
Multinationals are closing ranks through mergers to become bigger and more powerful, to further pressure and aggressively lobby politicians to dismantle the regulations gained through years of social struggle through trade agreements such as the TPP and TTIP and in this way, secure free access to markets all over the world. Free access which rings like conquest and domination. But civil society is also closing ranks to reclaim its rights to healthy food and a healthy and safe environment. For this reason, alongside the Monsanto Tribunal, will be held the People’s Assembly, perfectly in tandem with the proceedings against the US multinational. The Tribunal, with judges, lawyers and witnesses, will expose and judge the activities of Monsanto in front of world public opinion, while the Assembly, with the participation of movements activists and experts from around the world, will discuss and formulate alternatives to the dictatorship that multinationals are wanting to impose.
The People’s Assembly has rallied the democratic forces around the world not only as an ideal but practically and pragmatically. Indeed, hundreds of assemblies are being organised at this moment around the world at the local level to address and discuss the same issues being discussed in The Hague, in a relationship of mutual exchange of information, of visions, and of solidarity. Navdanya’s Call to Action for 2016 has reached thousands of activists and movements all over the world, who are organising to reproduce, at the local level, the People’s Assembly of The Hague. The People’s Assembly and the Monsanto Tribunal as such are already a terrific example of participation from the bottom up to deliver a very clear and unequivocal message: enough with business at the expense of people and the environment, enough with giant economic powers attacking democratic institutions that have the moral duty to govern based on interests of the people and the planet.
Navdanya International – Director
People’s Assemblies for the Future of our Food and the Future of our Planet
Everywhere – 2nd – 16th October 2016