Paul Towers, Pesticide Action Network
November 17, 2011
Preparations Begin for “Big 6” on Trial
Prosecutors Issue Summons to the Six Largest Pesticide Manufacturers for Human Rights Violations
SAN FRANCISCO, CA — Citing widespread and egregious violations of basic human rights, anetwork of scientists, doctors, lawyers and human rights organizations issued a summons today to the world’s six largest pesticide corporations to appear in court. The summons initiates a trial slated to begin in early December, on the anniversary of the Bhopal disaster.
“The pesticide industry has committed brazen violations of human rights,” said Kathryn Gilje, co-director of Pesticide Action Network North America, and who will be reporting from the trial. “We need a justice system that upholds the human rights to health, livelihood and life and ensures corporate accountability.”
Prosecutors cite the six largest pesticide companies – Monsanto, Syngenta, Bayer, BASF, Dow and Dupont – or “Big 6”, for their crimes against humanity, including basic rights to life, livelihood and health. The agrochemical industry is valued at over $42 billion and operates with impunity while over 355,000 people die as a direct result of pesticide poisoning every year, and hundreds of thousands more are made ill. In addition, pesticide corporations have put livelihoods and jobs in jeopardy, including, farmers, beekeepers and lobstermen.
“Unchecked pesticide corporations have undermined the fundamental right to health,” said Pamela Miller, biologist and director of Alaska Community Action on Toxics. “The ‘Big 6’ have put mothers and their children, in harm’s way when they opened the Pandora’s box of chemicals on global communities. Alaskan peoples’ have suffered under this load of chemicals, including cancers, birth defects and miscarriages.”
Attorneys, witnesses and jurors from across the globe head to Bangalore, India to begin an intensive three-day trial, starting on December 3rd. The trial commences on the anniversary of the Bhopal disaster, in which over 20,000 people have died, after an explosion at a Dow Chemical facility. The trial is hosted by the Pesticide Action Network International, a network of over 600 participating nongovernmental organizations, institutions, and individuals in over 90 countries working to replace the use of hazardous pesticides with ecologically sound and socially just alternatives.
The Permanent People’s Tribunal officially facilitates the trial, lacking any set of binding national laws. Founded in Italy in 1979, the Tribunal was founded to elevate massive human rights violations in the absence of another international justice system. It draws on conventional court format, and is rooted in existing international frameworks, including the UN Declaration on Human Rights.
A summary of the trial, including summaries of cases against the Big 6, can be found here. Ongoing coverage, including YouTube videos with witness testimony will be provided through this website.
Follow Kathryn Gilje during the trial on Twitter @KatatPAN.
Available for Interviews:
Jeannie Economos, Pesticide Safety and Environmental Health Project Coordinator, Farm Worker Association of Florida:407-886-5151, firstname.lastname@example.org. Jeannie workers extensively with communities where former farmworkers suffer debilitating health impacts as a result of being forced to work in harsh conditions in close contact with dangerous pesticides over decades.
Kathryn Gilje, Co-Director, Pesticide Action Network North America:415-728-0172, Kathryn@panna.org. Kathryn has years of experience working on food, agriculture, policy and social justice issues in the U.S. and internationally and is bilingual (Spanish/English).
Pamela Miller, Executive Director, Alaska Community Action on Toxics:(907) 242-9991. Pamela is known for her work to prompt statewide, national, and international chemicals policy reform to protect environmental and human health in the Arctic and sub-Arctic.
Ana Duncan Pardo, Communications Coordinator, Toxic-Free NC:919-833-8655, email@example.com. Ana has worked with farmworkers and has extensive experience in science communications. She has led several community-based efforts on environmental and civic issues and is bilingual (Spanish/English).
Dr. Jeff Ritterman, MD, Physicians for Social Responsibility: 510-384-1315. Jeff is a cardiologist, presently serves on the Richmond City Council (California) and has lectured widely on the adverse health effects of routine pesticide use in agriculture.