[5/25/10] Syngenta is Condemned in Europe for Human Rights Violations in Brazil

The Swiss multinational Syngenta, which produces genetically modified seeds, was denounced and condemned in the Fourth Permanent Peoples' Tribunal, held in Madrid May 13-17 of this year. This was the second complaint made against the company in court, only this time related to human rights violations resulting from its activities with GMOs, pesticides and seed market dominance. The first complaint (http://terradedireitos.org.br/biblioteca/noticias/tribunal-dos-povos-div...) was related to the murder of rural worker Keno in 2007, in a company experimental field in Parana. Via Campesina and Terra de Direitos [Land Rights], based on technical studies of the Secretariat of Agriculture and Supply of Paraná, accused Syngenta of genetic contamination. They proved before the court that BT Corn11of the transnational is contaminating non-GM corn crops in Brazil. The farmer Valdeci Cella, producer of native seeds in Anchieta (Santa Catarina) said that "we are trying to create alternatives to the agricultural model imposed by transnational corporations, especially in Brazil by Syngenta. Our proposed agro-ecological farming is being threatened by genetic contamination, by indiscriminate use of pesticides and illegal practices of the enterprise market. Our way of life is threatened." During the prosecution, it was also demonstrated that Syngenta, along with others in the industry, are trying to impose a model of agriculture based on large-scale monoculture in the overuse of pesticides and the patenting of seeds. The legal advisor to the Terra de Direitos, Fernando Prioste, told the judges that "there are already places such as southern Brazil, where farmers no longer find a non-transgenic soybean seed market. Transnational corporations are buying small seed producers and imposing the transgenic seed market as the only option. That means that farmers have to abandon their traditional practices of agriculture, to submit to a production model in which workers and consumers lose, while the company has big profits." In the pronounced sentence, the court evaluated the various human rights violations and condemned, morally and politically, the actions of transnational corporations and governments who are complicit and, at the same time, actors of these violations of human rights. During the trial various aspects of EU involvement in how transnational corporations operate in other countries were detailed. The paper also put forward some proposals to the European Union so that it no longer condones violations of human rights. http://terradedireitos.org.br/wp-content/uploads/2010/05/TRIBUNAL_PERMAN... Transnational companies in the dock The condemnation of Syngenta by the Permanent Peoples' Tribunal is ethical, moral, political and popular. The initiative of the Grupo Enlazando Alternativas [Enlazando Alternatives Group] is not binding or authoritative. However, this does not exclude the possibility of litigation in national and international courts. In this sense, it was discussed as a viable form for condemning companies in national and international courts. Juan Hernandez, a student of the subject, said there is a large gap in the legislation on liability of companies for violations of human rights and the rules governing the market. Nationally and internationally, the rules of the market (patent laws, trade and others) are tough, have enforcement mechanisms and ensure the economic interests of businesses. On the other hand there are hardly any laws, especially international, that hold the companies responsible, the laws are looser, optional to the companies and without mechanisms of enforceability. Even with all these difficulties, in some cases it is possible to bring these cases to court, in the national or international context, against the multinationals. This is the theme of the publication made by the Terra de Direitos, entitled "Transnational Corporations on Trial: Violations of Human Rights and Opportunities of Reparation." The paper aims to explain the main issues of the topic and serve as a basic tool for social movements and lawyers to examine the possibilities for litigation against transnational corporations. In accessible language and systematization of contents, the paper discusses conceptual issues, preparation of litigation, in addition to examining some instruments and mechanisms such as the ATCA [Alien Tort Claims Act] in the U.S., the UN and ILO [International Labor Organization] mechanisms Read the entire paper by clicking http://terradedireitos.org.br/wp-content/uploads/2010/05/Guia-transnacio....