Argentina: court suspends Monsanto construction

A three-judge panel of an appeals court in the central Argentine province of Córdoba has ordered the Missouri-based biotech giant Monsanto Company to suspend construction of a seed-drying plant in the town of Malvinas Argentinas pending the completion of an environmental impact study. The court’s 2-1 decision was in response to a suit by ecologists and Malvinas residents charging that local authorities violated environmental laws when they authorized the construction. Monsanto issued a statement saying the company had already completed its own impact study and would appeal the court’s decision.

Residents of Malvinas, a working-class suburb of the city of Córdoba, have been organizing against Monsanto since June 2012, when the company announced plans for the facility, which is to occupy 27 hectares. Activists began blockading roads to the site on Sept. 19, 2013; they have managed to cut off access ever since, despite death threats and violent attacks by Monsanto supporters. Monsanto calls the activists “extremists” who have “incited violence and systematically ignored judicial decisions,” preventing Monsanto employees and contractors from “exercis[ing] their right to work.”

Monsanto is a leading producer of genetically modified (GM) seeds and of the herbicide glyphosate, marketed as Roundup. The company reported on Jan. 8 that had earned $368 million in the quarter ending on Nov. 30, up from $339 million for that period the year before. (TeleSUR, Jan. 9; MercoPress, Montevideo, Jan. 10)

From Weekly News Update on the Americas, January 12.