Monsanto loses criminal process against social movements in Brazil
On Thursday, May 23, several social movements in Brazil achieved an important victory when the judges of the Court of Justice unanimously absolved five leaders who were unjustly accused by Monstanto of instigating and designing alleged crimes in 2003.
The transnational company Monstanto is present in more tan 80 countries, and controls approximately 80% of the global market for genetically modified seeds and agricultural chemicals. It joined in a criminal case against the above-mentioned leaders following a protest by 600 participants at the company’s experimental site in Ponta Grossa, to denounce and protest the entry of genetically modified seeds into the state of Paraná as well as against other environmental crimes committed by the company.
Following the protest, two leaders of the landless farmworkers movement, the Movimento Sem Terra (MST), Célio Leandro Rodrigues and Roberto Baggio were charged, together with José Maria Tardim (who was a member of a local movement dedicated to family farming and agro-ecology (AS-PTA), Joaquim Eduardo Madruga (a photographer with ties to social movements) and Darci Frigo, from ESCR-Net member de Terra de Direitos. In apparent efforts to criminalize these protest activities, the company blamed the 600-person protest onthe actions of these five leaders, using a generic argument that the accused sustained close ties with social movements.
On May 25, more than 50 countries participated in a “March Against Monsanto” to protest genetic manipulation and its monopoly over agriculture and biotechnology. Monsanto is a global leader in the production of glyphosate, sold under the brand Round Up. Brazil is the second largest consumer of Monsanto’s products, and the company’s Brazilian affiliate reported a profit of $1.65 billion in 2012.