Protest at the last Syngenta General Assembly: Responsibility cannot be sold

Press release of Greenpeace and MultiWatch, 26.6.2017

Syngenta will remain Syngenta, was the slogan at the last shareholders’ meeting of the agribusiness. Intended to be a promise, this is a threat to farmers- and human rights organisations. MultiWatch and Greenpeace-Basel are calling on ChemChina and Syngenta to stop the business with highly toxic pesticides such as paraquat and the neonicotinoid thiamethoxam, which are both prohibited in Switzerland and China. They further demand an immediately cease of human rights violations in Pakistan, Brazil and Kauai.

The protest against human rights violations of the company and its business model accompanied Syngenta from its foundation until its takeover by ChemChina. At the beginning of March 2017, a report by delegates on the right to food to the UN Human Rights Council estimated that around 200,000 people worldwide die from the effects of pesticides every year, particularly in poor countries. This makes the fact that ChemChina/Syngenta controls around one quarter of the world’s pesticide market and still exports highly toxic pesticides, such as paraquat, to countries like India all the more serious. It is well documented, that farmers in poor countries have no access to adequate protective equipment. Often also children are affected by pesticide poisoning.

With a banner saying “Syngenta remains Syngenta – paraquat remains deadly – responsibility remains a duty” and further protest signs (also in Chinese), the protesters addressed the head of the state-owned company ChemChina that now owns Syngenta. They must now ensure that the human rights to health and food, as well as the trade union rights of their employees, are finally respected world-wide. MultiWatch and its supporting organisations demand that the three specific and well documented cases of human rights violations in Kauai, Brazil and Pakistan are resolved immediately. In Kauai, up to 26 pesticides have been detected in children’s hair. Nevertheless Syngenta still operates their test-fields near residential buildings and schools and refuses to inform the public about their spraying-schedule. In Brasil, Syngenta security forces killed Keno almost ten years ago. Keno’s widow is still waiting for compensation despite court verdicts against Syngenta. Seven years ago, Imran Ali, union leader from Pakistan, was dismissed as he demanded Syngenta to comply with the labour law and the local collective labour agreement. ChemChina now has the opportunity to quickly remedy these old burdens.

“If Syngenta remains Syngenta, then our protest will also remain. Since ChemChina is taking Syngenta from the stock market, thereby decreasing transparency, the public involvement is more important than ever”, says Ueli Gähler from the organisation MultiWatch. “The Swiss government as well as the government in Basel must ensure that human rights are respected. The export of toxic pesticides to countries in the South has to be stopped.”
Direkter Download - Achtung Link öffnet sich in einem neuen Fenster (Speech of Ueli Gählre (MultiWatch) to China   Speech of Ueli Gählre (MultiWatch) to China's president Xi Jinping (20.5.2017) (0.50 MB)