The Case of Syngenta: Human Rights
Violations in Brazil – 2008
Switzerland is often portrayed as a clean, green, intelligent, peace-loving nation. Dramatic landscapes apparently have beautiful, golden, braided-haired women prancing about innocently picking flowers from hillsides dripping in milk, honey and chocolate.
But, the beauty of globalisation and the international food swap model is that the darker side of modern industry can be hidden away on the other side of the world. Embarrassing, incriminating activities can be kept separate from oompa loompaville, away from prying eyes and swept into the remotest places – where there are virgin soils still to be found and gorged upon, where environmental regulations are weak or nonexistent and where legal protection for indigenous people are disincentivised in the quest for profit and ‘development’.
The Swiss company Syngenta – one of the world’s largest transnational agribusiness corporations, one well-known for its production of agrochemicals and GM seeds – however, has still managed to attract attention to itself even in far away Brazil. Like with other agribusiness companies we could mention, competitiveness is key to success, and externalising costs – at any cost – is one of the best ways to achieve this.
I won’t give you a long treatise on the document embedded here, but leave you to peruse yourself. In it you will find details about illegal GMO and chemical polluting and the persecution and murder of the local people who were inconveniently protesting against the same. Syngenta stands accused of violating Brazil’s Federal Constitution, their environmental laws, the UN Convention on Biological Diversity, the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and other national and international laws.