Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Chomsky explains American Libertarian versus Traditional Libertarian

Monsanto, Bayer and Dow face trial for 'systematic human rights abuses'

Article is from The Ecologist

Permanent Peoples' Tribunal accuses biotech giants Monsanto, Dow, Bayer, Syngenta, DuPont and BASF of promoting dangerous pesticides including endosulfan, paraquat and neonicotinoids

The world's major agrochemical companies, Monsanto, Dow, Bayer, Syngenta, DuPont and BASF, will face a public tribunal in early December accused of systematic human rights violations.

They are accused of violating more than 20 instruments of international human rights law through promoting reliance on the sale and use of dangerous and unsafe pesticides including endosulfan, paraquat and neonicotinoids.

The Permanent Peoples' Tribunal (PPT), an international opinion tribunal created in 1979, will hear expert testimony from scientists, medical doctors and lawyers to prove the charges. Victims who have been injured by these products - from farmers, farmworkers, mothers and consumers from around the world - will also testify to the causes and nature of their injuries.

The cases will be heard over a four-day trial in Bangalore, India beginning December 3. While the Tribunal has no legal weight, and cannot force sanctions on companies, it aims to expose and raise awareness of large-scale human rights violations.

Pesticides Action Network (PAN) International, a global network comprised of 600 organisations in 90 countries, has spent years collecting information to bring about the indictments and is seeking justice for more than 25 specific cases - such as Silvino Talavera, an 11-year-old from Paraguay who died days after breathing in a cloud of Monsanto's RoundUp herbicide sprayed by a crop duster. The trial will also hear evidence of the link between pesticide use and a decline in bees.

The corporations, known as the 'Big 6' control 74 per cent of the global pesticide market, as well as dominating the global seed market.

Bayer reject the allegations saying they are a, 'wholesale distortion of the role of pesticides in our society.' Monsanto, Syngenta and Dow, after being contacted by the Ecologist, were unavailable for comment.

Pesticide poisonings

An estimated 355,000 people are believed to die each year from unintentional pesticide poisoning, according the World Health Organization. Nick Mole from PAN UK said the trial would give a voice to the otherwise voiceless victims of pesticides.

‘The pesticide industry is massive and incredibly powerful. It is difficult to prove corporate manslaughter even when these products are killing hundreds of people a year,' he says. ‘We've spoken to people who have been abused and we are allowing them to give voice to their individual stories. We will be presenting the outcome of the Tribunal to the corporations and will be inviting their response,' he says.

It is hoped that the verdict, to be delivered on December 6, will lead to greater discussions at UN institutions on holding agrochemical corporations accountable for crimes relating to the impact of their products.

Peoples' Tribunal

The PPT grew out of the work by Italian Senator Lelio Basso, and serves as a grassroots, ad hoc court to consider charges and to issue verdicts on complaints of human rights violations submitted by victims or their representative groups.

Since 1979, the PPT has held 35 sessions exposing various forms of human rights abuses in cases from the Bhopal disaster, Tibet sovereignty and the intervention of the US in Nicaragua.

 Please NOTE this article is from

EU Bans Airport X-Ray Scanners

Citing health concerns, the European Union banned from European airports this week the same kind of X-ray scanners used by TSA in airports across the US. Here's the EU's wording:
In order not to risk jeopardising citizens' health and safety, only security scanners which do not use X-ray technology are added to the list of authorised methods for passenger screening at EU airports.
In How Safe Are TSA's Porno Scanners? I wrote about the risks of using ionizing radiation in routine airport screenings. Concerned scientists have noted the health risks of X-ray scanners, where even low levels of radiation increase cancer risks. They also note that TSA's safety testing is flawed, since:
  1. testing is not done on the skin, which receives most backscatter X-rays
  2. the devices used for testing airport scanners are not designed for testing airport scanners
Worse, as Pro Publica points out, TSA's safety tests are strangely obtuse:
The researchers' names have been kept secret, and the report on the tests is so "heavily redacted" that "there is no way to repeat any of these measurements."
European airports can still use alternative body scanners, including millimeter-wave scanners that use radio frequency waves not linked to cancer.

Some 500 body scanners are in use in the US, reports Pro Publica. About half are backscatter X-ray scanners, which look like a pair of large blue boxes. The other half are millimeter-wave scanners, which look like a round glass booth. The X-ray scanners are in use at major airports including Los Angeles International, New York's JFK, and Chicago's O'Hare. Millimeter-wave scanners are in use at San Francisco, Atlanta, and Dallas.