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Photo credit: Ralf Falbe

By Maeve McClenaghan

The murder of an environmental lawyer in the Philippines has provoked outrage in a country where environmental activists are increasingly targeted.

Mia Manuelita Cumba Masacariñas-Green was shot dead on Feb. 15 after her car was ambushed by two men on motorbikes in the Filipino capital Bohol. Masacariñas-Green, 49, was driving her three young children home when she was shot in the head and body. Her children, who witnessed the killing, were unhurt.

Activists Targeted

Nearly 100 environmental activists defenders have been killed in the Philippines since 2010. A third of those happened in 2015 alone. Violence is increasingly common in the Philippines where President Rodrigo Duterte's so-called "war on drugs" has led to state sanctioned murders of more that 7,000 people in the last seven months, according to Amnesty International.

Investigators have not yet determined a motive nor found the gunmen responsible for Masacariñas-Green's murder. But activists on the ground fear the lawyer was targeted because of her work.

Late last year, campaigners working to stop illegal fishing reported receiving death threats.

Global Witness has described the Philippines as "one of the most dangerous places in the world to be an environmental or land defender."

Yeb Saño, executive director of Greenpeace Southeast Asia, condemned the killing:

"Those who cause environmental destruction are resorting to savage measures and deplorable acts to stop communities and people who are standing up to protect our imperiled environment and the very ecosystems that support the lives and livelihoods of our people.

"Let our grief and our outrage at such horrifying acts be heard. Let our actions and people's movements spur our society towards a green and peaceful future."

By Watcharapol Daengsubha

Last weekend, farmers, scientists and activists from all over the world gathered at the Monsanto Tribunal in The Hague, Netherlands, to present the case against destruction caused by one of the corporate giants that promotes industrial farming.

Monsanto Tribunal in The Hague on Oct. 15.Greenpeace

The symbolic Monsanto Tribunal aimed to hold Monsanto—the giant agrochemical company—to account for its alleged atrocities against humanity and the environment. This event is far from over. It will echo back through the food system as the tribunal's participants bring home lessons, solutions and renewed hope for change.

First day of the tribunal, judges Tulkens (left) and Dior Fall Sow.Greenpeace

Five internationally renowned judges heard 30 witnesses. Experts gave their accounts of the environmental damage wrought by Monsanto. One testimony described how monoculture has caused a great loss to seed variety. They compared the patenting of seeds to a new form of colonization.

Seng Channeang, Cambodian small-scale farmer.Greenpeace

These testimonies will give people all over the world a well-documented legal brief to be used in lawsuits against other similar corporations.

"Although this is not legally binding, it is legally sound," said Arnaud Apoteker, member of the steering committee of the tribunal. "The witnesses were presenting real cases to real judges. The lessons from this event can be used in ensuing local battles."

One of the 30 witnesses, Feliciano Ucam Poot, a Mayan farmer from Mexico, submitted evidence to support his allegations that glyphosate and other chemicals are linked to children's sickness.

"Before the introduction of glyphosate and other agrochemicals, I did not see our people suffer from sickness like this," he said. "A lot of people are suffering like us and this tribunal will ensure that our stories will be heard around the world."

Scene from the Monsanto Tribunal Press Conference on Oct. 15.Greenpeace

Do we need these agrochemicals to feed the world? A question asked of Hans Herren, a renowned scientist and president of the Millennium Institute at the Monsanto Tribunal. "By producing less waste we can feed 10 million people. We need to make more health per acre, not calories per acre," he said.

Running parallel to the tribunal hearings was a People's Assembly, where people from around the world discussed solutions to the impacts caused by industrial agriculture. As many of the witnesses pointed out, one of the greatest challenges they face is to make their voices heard. This assembly provided a much needed forum for communities to come together and find sustainable solutions to common problems.

The People's Assembly, The Hague.Greenpeace

"We should fight for ourselves. Nobody is free from danger if our food is toxic," said Farida Akhter of UBINIG (Policy Research for Development Alternatives), Bangladesh.

The stories of people like Feliciano and the concerns of Farida are echoed by millions of voices from across the world; from beekeepers in Mexico to small scale producers in France and farmers in India.

The judges of the tribunal will assess these allegations, examine all evidence put forth and publish their findings in December.

Judges at the Monsanto Tribunal.Greenpeace

These issues aren't limited to farmers and environmentalists—they concern us all. We all have a choice: As citizens and consumers, we can all make decisions to shape the future we want.

Here are 12 things you can do to start the eco-food revolution.

Watcharapol Daengsubha is a food and ecological agriculture campaigner with Greenpeace Southeast Asia.

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