Monsanto's manipulation on science, attempts to 'silence scientists' revealed

Monsanto's manipulation on science, attempts to 'silence scientists' revealed
The Tribunal is an international civil society initiative to hold Monsanto accountable for human rights violations, for crimes against humanity and for ecocide. - Photo from Flickr
THE advisory opinion of the International Monsanto Tribunal (Tribunal) has concluded that  agrochemical company, Monsanto has engaged in various conducts that undermine science and scientists.

The summary of the advisory opinion of the Tribunal reads: “Some of Monsanto’s practices mentioned in the testimonies of agronomists and molecular biologists have resulted in court convictions for the company.

“Among those practices are, illegal GMO plantations, resorting to studies misrepresenting the negative impacts of roundup (herbicide) by limiting the analysis to 'glyphosate' only, while the product is a combination of substances, massive campaigns aiming at discrediting the results of independent scientific studies.”

Monsanto’s 'dirty tricks' had led to the revoking of a study published in an international journal and the subsequent job loss for a scientist in a government health institute, the summary showed.

The Tribunal concluded that Monsanto’s various conducts have been adversely affecting the human right to science.

“Conducts such as intimidation, discrediting independent scientific research when it raises serious questions about the protection of the environment and public health, suborning false research reports, putting pressure on governments are transgressing the freedom indispensable for scientific research.

“This abuse is exacerbated by exposure to health and accompanying environmental risks, which deprive society the possibility to safeguard their fundamental rights.
“Taking direct measures to silence scientists or attempting to discredit their work constitutes conduct that abuses the right to freedom indispensable for scientific research and the right to freedom of expression,” Steve Shyrbman, an independent judge of the Tribunal said while highlighting this negatively affects one’s right to information.

Shrybman delivered the legal opinion on Tuesday to one of the six questions posed to the Tribunal during the hearings in The Hague, Netherlands.

The question posed concerned on the alleged infringement on the freedom indispensable for scientific research (scientific freedom).

This scientific freedom is guaranteed by Article 15 (3) of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, as well as the freedoms of thought and expression guaranteed in Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

He said, the scientific freedom is associated with freedom of thoughts and expressions, and on the rights to information.

Therefore, other fundamental rights such as the right to health, food, water and a healthy environment hinges on this scientific freedom.

By muzzling scientists and harassing them when they blow the whistle are acts that violate their rights to the freedom, he implied.

Shyrbman, who practices international trade and public interest law in Toronto and Ottawa said that the freedom engenders the requirement to ensure that scientific researchers are able to express themselves freely and are protected when acting as whistle-blowers.

The advisory opinion of the Tribunal also pointed out a crucial fact that internal Monsanto documents released in March 2017 revealed Monsanto has indeed systematically manipulated scientific papers.

The internal documents were released as a result of a court order of the U.S. District Court, Northern District of California and further highlighted Monsanto’s malpractices.

What is the International Monsanto Tribunal?

The Tribunal is an international civil society initiative to hold Monsanto accountable for human rights violations, for crimes against humanity and for ecocide.

Prominent judges heard testimonies related to the six questions posed to the Tribunal in The Hague on October 15 and 16, 2016.

The corresponding legal opinion which was delivered by the Tribunal on Tuesday, April 18, 2017, incorporated a legal analysis of the questions put forward with respect to both existing international law and to prospective law in order to improve international human rights and environmental law.

The Tribunal relied on the “Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights” adopted at the UN in 2011. It also assessed potential criminal liability on the basis of the Rome Statute that created the International Criminal Court in The Hague in 2002.

It examined whether the Rome Statute establishing the International Criminal Court in force since 2002 should be reformed, in order to include the crime of ecocide and to allow for the prosecution of individual and legal entities suspected of having committed this crime.

The legal opinion of the Tribunal judges was presented to the public 'live' from The Hague.