Johnson VS Monsanto: Remedies beyond compensation merely

Dwayne Johnson, (not to be confused with the WWE Giant ‘The Rock’.) a victim of Roundup weed killer recently won $ 289
million compensation Against infamous Agro chemical Biggie Monsanto. It is first of its kind trial against a large corporation like
Monsanto. Monsanto (Technically, it is Bayer Now). Launched lyphosate (As roundup) in 1974. They presented it as a
Herbicide which is harmless and claimed it would not pose any threat to human of environment. But research showed, over the
year’s Glyphosate is a probable carcinogenic.

Johnson a Grounds keeper, was exposed to Glyphosate as part of daily work schedule way back in 2012. He was commissioned with spraying Roundup and Ranger pro in different schools and sports arena. The Jury addressed whether Monsanto knowingly failed to warn consumers that weed killer roundup could be harmful, not whether it can cause cancer (Just like the warning of to bacco companies). Exports say that this is surely an epoch making judgement. Not because it ushers a way of New-age litigation, but because it triggers some point before us. There are some serious sort of allegations against these agrochemical Giants (DuPont, Syngenta being the others) Even there was a trial against Monsanto way back in 2016, at Hague, the Netherlands. (International Monsanto tribunal). And Even some expert blame them for ‘Ecocide’, Ecocide is now considered as a serious sort  of crime and some people including polly liggins, a renowned environmental Lawyer based in UK, urge to include Ecocide as the 5th crime of crime against peace. (to be added with crime of Genocide, crimes against peace, war crimes, crime of aggression).

The Monsanto tribunal:
We all know Human Rights exist from the very inception of Human race. In October 2016, a public tribunal was held where the Jury found Monsanto liable. The judges heard testimonies from the victims and witnesses from around the world. The judges (5 in number) the Lawyers, the experts, the testimonies, the witnesses all were real. But the verdict of the tribunal was not mandatory as Ecocide in not a crime yet under any international instruments. The tribunal held Monsanto liable of Ecocide. The advisory opinion includes some crucial questions related public’s rights to food. Health, a Healthy environment and most importantly right to
information. Even the widening Gap between corporate accountability and Human Rights were discussed. Most importantly, there was delegation from Bangladesh (we must not forget the BI Bringal Hoaz of Monsanto in Bangladesh) and thus
the questions also arose before the Jury regarding seed patenting.

Next What:
It is sure the world is going to experience same Judgement in coming days in different Lawsuits as Monsanto is burdened with
more than 800 similar Lawsuits in different parts of world. Judges may get help from the Judgement of Johnson’s case. Similarly,
In Pakistan, Asghar Leghari (A Law student and farmer) successfully brought Pak Govt., before court for environmental
Inaction (Asghar Leghari VD Federation of Pakistan) We have the reference of Taizhou pollution case of China where a chemical company of China taken to task for River pollution. We have the instances of Ground breaking URGENDA foundation case of Netherlands. Even Delhi Govt. the owner of World’s Worst Air was fined with Rs. 25 crore, because of Air pollution by NGT. Even there is a chant everywhere regarding “Atmospheric trust Litigation”

Can we think of Lawsuit in Bangladesh over atmospheric issues (Not to forget that Dhaka is just behind Delhi in Air Pollution)? Or
can we think of a courtroom battle over newly emerged “Ecocide” issues? (Our agro sector is doing stupendous performances). Atmospheric and climatic pollution claimed approximately 8000 lives last year in Bangladesh! We all know our existing Environment Law mechanisms are just good for nothings (At least 50 different acts regarding Environment issues). In the awake of such a new legal regime throughout the world, some say it as ‘Environmental Justice’ we need to reconsider our Environmental Law mechanisms. We must remember we ae the first generation that are experiencing the sting of Ecocide but at the same we are the last to save it.

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Ridwanul Islam

Advocate, Chittagong Judge's Court.

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