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Setting the Record Straight on the “Monsanto Tribunal”

Featured Article

By Nick Weber, Corporate Engagement

Over the past few days, you may have come across headlines referencing a “Monsanto Tribunal” at The Hague. A group of activists, led and organized by the Organic Consumers Association, plans to put Monsanto “on trial” for alleged crimes against nature and humanity. I’d like to take a moment to set a few things straight about this fake trial.

Monsanto respects others’ points of view, and we welcome the opportunity to have an open dialogue about agriculture and food production. However, this is not a real trial, and the results of this initiative have no legal substance–it is simply a publicity stunt. The organizers of the stunt have historically shown that they are not interested in dialogue, but rather seek to create headlines that misrepresent and mislead.

Let me be clear on this point: Monsanto is not against organic agriculture. We believe all farming practices will be necessary to feed our growing population—whether farmers grow organic, conventional or GMO crops, all three practices should be available to farmers to choose how they decide to market their crops. Some of our customers use organic practices. However, certain groups, like the Organic Consumers Association, use fear and scare tactics to belittle science-based innovations that help to improve agricultural sustainability.

And that’s the big difference between Monsanto and these groups: Monsanto is supportive of all types of agriculture and food production, while these groups are more interested in making sure only one is available.

Monsanto is ready and eager to respond to all questions about our activities and products. Transparency is a vital part of our approach, and we would like the public to judge us on the reality of our activities, and not a caricature. This fake trial has no legal basis and is an attempt to mislead the public. We invite anyone who wants to learn more about Monsanto and ask a question to visit us at discover.monsanto.com.

43 Responses to "Setting the Record Straight on the “Monsanto Tribunal”"

  1. You should totally include how you were not invited to your own trial (At least, as far as I am able to tell, that is the case).

    Reply
      • Hi Wolf,
        We have the utmost respect for the United States Constitution which is why it is disappointing to see anyone try to legitimize these false claims of a trial or tribunal as a publicity stunt.

        Reply
    • I was there, and it is not a hoax – and you know that as well. It was a Tribunal organised by Civil Society with 5 internationally respected judges and over 25 expert witnesses and testimonials from 5 continents with 1000 activists. The judges will render their conclusions which will be a very powerful tool to use for future trials in the battle to win justice for Earth and all the people your GMOs and Roundup are poisoning. MONSANTO was invited to participate and defend themselves, but you declined. You know this better than anyone. The games over! Corp Greed has run its course.

      Reply
      • At Monsanto, we welcome a genuine constructive conversation with diverse ideas and perspectives about food and agriculture production. These conversations are much needed to help find sustainable solutions to the challenge of growing enough food for an increasing population. But the “tribunal” was not a real dialogue. It was a staged event, a mock trial where anti-agriculture technology and anti-Monsanto critics play organizers, judge and jury, and where the outcome was pre-determined. As it was a stunt staged and supported by the International Foundation for Organic Agriculture (IFOAM) – an umbrella organization of organic agriculture organizations, and their associates such as Navdanya and others who are fundamentally opposed to modern agriculture – we decided not to participate. We will continue to engage with and address concerns and questions of those who are genuinely interested in who we are and what we do. For the record, here is where we stand on transparency, the human rights to food, health and a safe environment, and sustainable food production – http://discover.monsanto.com/sustainable-farming/

        Reply
  2. If this is true, why does your company, parent companies, and subsidiaries spend so much money on lobbying to keep GMO labels from being put on food we purchase as consumers? If you think farmers should have a choice in what they grow, do you not believe the consumers should have the choice in what they eat?

    Reply
    • Hi John,
      A non-GMO label does currently exist, and no matter where you buy your groceries, there are probably a lot of products on the shelves labeled “GMO free.” We’re fully supportive of companies’ right to use this label. We don’t support mandatory labeling as we think it could be interpreted by people as a warning that GMO foods are somehow less nutritious or safe than other foods. This would be misleading, since independent experts like the World Health Organization and the American Medical Association agree that GMO foods are just as safe, and no different in terms of nutrition, than other foods.

      Reply
        • S, GMO crops are not more toxic than conventional or organic foods. In fact, some organics allow for synthetic pesticides that are higher in toxicity than glyphosate. Secondly, there have been GMO foods created, not by Monsanto, but other scientists that resulted in increased nutrition. Golden rice is one example. This rice had Vitamin A in it and was specifically created to help children in third world countries who do not get enough vitamin A in their diets and suffer from blindness as a result. Unfortunately, people and the governments were scared of the “GMO” of the food and the rice was blocked from entering key countries where it could help the most.

          Through breeding efforts Monsanto has made a better broccoli called Beneforte. Beneforté® was developed after scientists went out in search of uncultivated varieties of broccoli that could produce higher levels of phytonutrients. What they found was a wild broccoli variety that had an ability to naturally produce broccoli that, on a per-serving basis, contains two to three times the phytonutrient glucoraphanin as a serving of other leading commercial broccoli varieties produced under similar growing conditions. Scientists bred this wild broccoli with traditional broccoli to produce one of Beneforté® parents. The broccoli was bred over several years to produce Beneforté®, which tastes just like traditional broccoli.

          Reply
  3. You say Monsanto believes, “all farming production will be necessary to feed our growing population,” and that you, “respect others’ points of view.” But how can you respect others’ points of view when you force farmers to plant your seeds and sell your GMO crops? And your corporation has personally sued and ruined dozens of farmers that did not conform to your agricultural demands. There are countless accounts of the injustices your company has enacted upon others, some even go as far as calling Monsanto the most “evil corporation in the world.” So I am just wondering how you can continue to say your company supports all type of farming when Monsanto continues to monopolize the world’s food production market? I understand that food production is a difficult business and that there are many different solutions to many problems. But from what your company has shown myself and the rest of the world, Monsanto cannot be trusted. Please take this tribunal seriously.

    Reply
    • Hi Evan,
      We do not force farmers to plant our seeds or sell GMO crops. There are many options in the market and farmers are free to make their own choices as this blog post explains. Also, we get countless questions regarding suing farmers. Here is a Q&A explaining the process. We do not sue farmers who end up with trace amounts of our seed or traits in their field by accident, and we made a commitment that we never will.

      We are an agricultural company with a focus on making a balanced meal accessible to everyone. We also support various communities throughout the world and help improve lives. As for taking the tribunal seriously, while we respect others’ points of view and we welcome the opportunity to have an open dialogue about the food farmers produce everyday to feed the world. It is disappointing to see anyone try to legitimize these false claims of a trial or tribunal for a publicity stunt.

      Reply
      • I agree that there are multiple ways that farmers can make their own choices, and after reading the Q&A I can see that suing farmers is very rare. But I still hear countless stories of Monsanto clashing with farmers. My questions about suing farmers stems from the documentary “Food Inc.” and I’ve also heard other accounts of farmers being attacked for having Monsanto seeds in their stock without informing the company. I realize that the documentary is one side of the argument, but you say that you will never sue a farmer for having trace amounts of Monsanto seeds and yet here is a clear example of it.

        I have no doubt that you support community groups through monetary contributions. And you’re right, we do need to have a real, open dialogue on the food industry and production. But this tribunal could be a perfect place to talk with others about the problems Monsanto faces. It saddens me as a concerned citizen that you would call this tribunal a “publicity stunt.” This tribunal could be a perfect platform for discussion and change, please don’t treat it as a joke.

        Reply
  4. Well put. This is easily the most embarrassing and bizarre stunt they’ve pulled to date. They thing that Monsanto is trying to eliminate organic farming when they actually support it. It’ just that well over 90 percent of U.S. farms embrace technology like safer and more efficient synthesized pesticides and GM crops for higher yield and less pesticide usage. These are options provided by Monsanto and other biotechnology companies. Nobody’s forcing anyone to use their products.

    Reply
    • What about the amount of Herbicides that are being sprayed for vegetation control other than for farming in the cities and the amount being sprayed is causing some people to become overly toxafide by them ! ! ! And as a result they are developing chronic illness even to the point of causing DEATH ! ! ! Now you knowed back in the 1970s That a percentage of the population was not going to be able to tolerate these chemicals ! ! ! That were all ready being sprayed BY THE RAILROAD,POWER COMPANY’S HIGHWAY DEPARTMENT FOR VEGETATION CONTOAL IN STRONG ENOUGH CONCENTRATIONS TO KILL A TREE.! ! ! Now just how does this justify distorting people’s LIVES.! ! ! I’m one of that certain PERCENTAGE.! ! !

      Reply
      • Hi Cassinohunter,
        We take the safety of the pesticide products we make, sell and use very seriously. All pesticide products (including herbicides) must go through regulation, including extensive safety testing and enforceable label instructions for safe use. In the United States, for example, the EPA requires a thorough safety assessment for each pesticide product before it approves the product for sale and use in the U.S. If you’d like more information about how the EPA evaluates the safety of pesticides, you can visit their website for a detailed explanation. You can also take a look at this article from Food Safety News, which discusses the safety of approved pesticide residues and tolerances. Also, checkout this Q&A/video which explores some reasons farmers spray herbicides to control weeds.

        Reply
  5. So … they rented office space or booked a conference room in a certain city in the Netherlands? And decided that they are some sort of “tribunal”?

    I’m not impressed.

    Reply
  6. The problem you face is that 99% of these activists and activist groups have never set foot on a farm, and the sole basis for their beliefs is the information (disinformation) gleaned from Natural News, Mercola and various other agenda-driven entities. Further, as you have pointed out, none are interested in actually discussing the validity of their fabrications – they block and delete any attempts to engage. So many people simply accept this unquestioningly.

    Reply
    • Hi Terry,
      Thank you for highlighting the need to focus on credible sources. As this GMOAnswers reply suggests credibility seems to be a bit of a moving target when searching for online answers.

      Reply
    • I am a farmer – for over 40 years. I’ve seen the growth of chemical reliant farming. Agricultural producers must be extremely careful not to breathe or have skin contact with the pesticides and herbicides they use on the crops. Chemical farming becomes a vicious cycle as soil becomes depleted of natural organisms necessary for plant health. Plants such as wheat require more than artificial fertilizers to bring a full spectrum of nutrition. Monsanto, and their like, is the elephant in the room. They have the power to do a lot of good. But how will the shareholders take that.

      Reply
      • Hi Anne. You are right. We can do a lot of good, and we are doing it every day by helping farmers grow more food sustainably, so that everyone can have access to a balanced meal. Specifically you mentioned soil health. Did you that that through advanced weed management solutions and GMOs, farmers are able to reduce spraying and tilling? Also, we promote reduced-till farming methods can help prevent runoff, maintain healthy nutrient-rich soil and reduce the emission of greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere.

        Reply
  7. You are hilarious calling this a “fake trial”….you DEPEND on people like your first commentor to just blindly trust what you say on the matter without researching it.

    Here’s a few links to help you folks get started:
    First, here’s what a Tribunal means:
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tribunal

    Second, here’s what the ICC does:
    https://www.icc-cpi.int/en_menus/icc/about%20the%20court/Pages/about%20the%20court.aspx

    Third: this ABSOLUTELY IS A REAL TRIAL….

    I always feel truly EMPOWERED when I research things for MYSELF, without a corporate sponsor’s influence.

    Have a great day, and enjoy!

    Reply
    • Hi Cathy,
      We are aware of the social media activity highlighting how several activists plan to put our company “on trial” in the Hague. While we respect others’ points of view and we welcome the opportunity to have an open dialogue about the food farmers produce everyday to feed the world, it is disappointing to see anyone try to legitimize these false claims of a trial or tribunal by using such an important international city as a backdrop for a publicity stunt. The following Forbes article further explains the nature of this fake Monsanto Tribunal.

      Reply
    • Randomly capitalizing your words doesn’t make your argument stronger. Try looking up the word “kangaroo court” since that’s what this silly tribunal really is.

      Reply
  8. An excellent appraisal of the situation. While there are those who only seek to demonize that which they cannot or will not understand, there is definitely a current of unscrupulousness from those who wish to profit from fear tactics rather than honest evaluations of their own work. Ironically, this is the same thing said about Monsanto by the fear-mongers. Real solutions come from a genuine desire to solve genuine problems. Bravo.

    Reply
  9. Hi Theresa,
    We are committed to helping farmers bring more food to harvest while reducing the impact of agriculture on the environment. Some of the products and solutions we’re working on include: improving soil health, developing conventionally bred and GMO seeds that use water more efficiently, and maximizing data via precision agriculture tools that can help farmers use their resources more efficiently. As far as safety, before any of our products are available for commercial use, they go through rigorous safety analysis and regulation from third parties, and they are continually evaluated. We are open to dialogue and addressing any questions you may have regarding food safety and our products. Please feel free to be part of the Conversation right here.

    Reply
  10. Pingback: The Hague will not be trying Monsanto for ecocide | Skepti-Forum

    • Hi Yamuna,
      These claims by the Moms Across America unfortunately, incite unwarranted confusion and concern. To be clear: The data released by the Moms Across America are not based on a valid analytical method. The ELISA method has not been validated for use on wine. In addition, as noted in the report, the laboratory that analyzed these results is not a human clinical diagnostic laboratory. This is the same approach the Moms Across America used when they claimed to detect glyphosate residues in human milk. These claims have been repudiated by regulatory authorities such as the U.S. EPA. Recent validated studies by the German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment and academic researchers have found no residues of glyphosate in milk using validated analytical methods. In any case, if glyphosate residues were found in wine at the levels this group reported, they are 10 times below the level EPA allows on grapes. At that amount, a 150-pound person would need to drink more than 8,000 regular-size bottles of wine a day to approach the EPA’s acceptable daily intake – and you’d have to wake up and drink that same amount day after day after day.
      We can’t reiterate enough how important it is that discussions about topics as important as human health and safety be based on rigorous analysis, validated methods and the best available science. Thanks again for your question.

      Reply
  11. How does Monsanto respond to the logic that producing a seed which is not self germinating should be illegal.
    This one small shift away from nature will eventually cause mass starvation; it is just a matter of time.
    In armed conflict, which humans are famous for,
    factories get destroyed and fertilizer burns or explodes.
    If seeds rely on man made fertilization, the world is in real trouble.

    Reply
    • Hi Stan, It seems like you are referring to terminator seeds. In 1999, we made a commitment to never commercialize so-called “terminator” seeds, and we’ve never wavered from it.

      Reply
  12. Pingback: AGRA Watch Supports The Monsanto Tribunal – AGRA Watch

  13. According to its critics, Monsanto is able to ignore the human and environmental damage caused by its products and maintain its devastating activities through a strategy of systemic concealment: by lobbying regulatory agencies and governments, by resorting to lying and corruption, by financing fraudulent scientific studies, by pressuring independent scientists, by manipulating the press and media, etc. The history of Monsanto would thereby constitute a text-book case of impunity, benefiting transnational corporations and their executives, whose activities contribute to climate and biosphere crises and threaten the safety of the planet.

    Reply

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