Saturday 17 November 2007
International discontent grows for South African Court decision
A group of seed savers, farmers, CSOs and NGOs, representing 40
organisations from 18 countries, from Africa, Europe, Asia and Latin
America, gathered in Debre Zeit, Ethiopia for the meeting: "From Seed
Security to Seed Sovereignty", between 5 and 12 November 2007, we want to
express our concern about the injustice Biowatch South Africa has to face.
Biowatch South Africa asked the SA government for access to information on
GMOs after they realized it was introduced in South Africa in a secretive
and untransparent manner. This was their Constitutional Right. The
government refused to give them any information and they were compelled to
go to court.
Monsanto, a multinational company known for its abuse of human rights and
environmental rights across the world, and one of the biggest GMO companies,
opposed Biowatch's right to information. The court awarded Biowatch the
right to most of the information it requested, and ruled that it was in the public interests to supply the information. The Court however ordered Biowatch to pay
Monsanto's legal cost.
. We concur that Biowatch South Africa acted on behalf of the people of
South Africa, and we believe their right to information should be upheld.
. We also consider that the GMO companies use South Africa as the gateway
for GMOs to the rest of Africa and therefore feel that Biowatch South Africa
acted on behalf of the whole of Africa.
. For this reason we are outraged at the court's judgement that Biowatch
should pay Monsanto's legal cost.
. We reject this disregard of the basic human right to information, to a
safe environment, to safe food, and the right to assert these human rights
in the courts without facing astronomical legal bills.
. We are deeply concerned that this infringement of the right of ordinary
people to know what they eat and what grows in their fields, will not only
impact on South Africa, but also affect the whole of Africa. It will
embolden the multinationals to impose and push their invasive technologies
on Africa, but it will also have a chilling effect on ordinary people trying
to defend their rights.
. We appeal to the people of South Africa and the rest of Africa to support
Biowatch in this challenging time.
. Finally, we appeal to the South African courts to reconsider this poor
judgement, and relieve Biowatch from paying Monsanto's legal costs.
Signed on this day, 11 November 2007 at Debre Zeit, Ethiopia.
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