Construction of Monsanto plant in north Argentina halted on environmental grounds
A labor appeals court in north-central Argentina ruled that the construction of a Monsanto plant is unconstitutional, halting work on the site. The three judge court ruled 2-1 in favor of the activists who filed a legal appeal against Monsanto’s GMO seed plant on environmental protection grounds in the municipality of Malvinas Argentinas, located in central Cordoba Province.
“We have filed a criminal complaint to inform the prosecutor of certain irregularities in violation of environmental law that have occurred in the heart of the Ministry of the Environment which is involved with authorizations of projects,” said attorney Raúl Montenegro.
The construction at the site has been suspended until an environmental assessment is completed to determine the plant’s future impact on the area. Local newspaper La Voz reported that the environmental study could be completed as soon as early February.
The multinational company said it will appeal the decision. “We consider our right to build legitimate since we have complied with all legal requirements and have obtained authorization to build according to the regulations,” said Monsanto’s statement.
The company stated that it already conducted an environmental assessment, which is currently under the review by the provincial Secretary of the Environment.
Activists had been blockading the construction site for 113 days, preventing workers from completing work on the plant.
Monsanto countered in a statement that “for over three months Monsanto employees and contractors had not been able to exercise their right to work, due to the action of extremists who blocked the site, incited violence and systematically ignored judicial decisions.”
In October a new report revealed that pesticides sold by Monsanto are linked to health problems ranging from birth defects to elevated rates of cancer in Argentina. A lack of regulations has led to widespread misuse of Monsanto’s products in agriculture rich Argentina.
Media investigations pointed to a clear link between the use of pesticides sold by Monsanto and worsening health problems in Argentina. The reports documented a number of occasions when toxic pesticides were used close to populated areas and consequently contaminated the water supply and caused health problems.
The multinational company is facing global criticism elsewhere as well. In October thousands took to streets across the world’s cities to protest the use of GMO products, with Monsanto a common target. Over 50 countries have been taking part in the march for world food day, and across 47 different US states.
The demonstrators have been calling for the permanent boycott of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) and “other harmful agro-chemicals,” according to March Against Monsanto’s official webpage.
A previous anti-Monsanto protest was held in May. It started as a small event, but turned into a global campaign with over 2 million people in 436 cities, across 52 countries, joining the rallies.
Nevertheless Monsanto saw its shares surge by more than 2% on Wednesday morning after announcing better-than-expected first quarter earnings earlier that day. The company said that for the quarter ending November 30, 2013 it earned 368 million, or 69 cents per share. One year earlier, the company earned only 339 million during that period, the Associated Press reported.