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How to win against Monsanto

What to do when a powerful multi-national corporation threatens your community’s most precious assets

What happens when David faces Goliath?

In the case of Biowatch in South Africa, you win a legal victory against Monsanto and the government of South Africa.

Biowatch has been committed to food sovereignty, biodiversity, and climate justice in South Africa since 1999. A threat to all of these is the push for genetically modified (GM) crops by companies like Monsanto.

For rural farmers, there is no separation between the environment and the economy. Though GMOs are often portrayed as a solution to food insecurity and climate change, there is increasing evidence that they do more harm than good. Promised crop yields fail to materialize, farmers increase their dependency on pesticides, and seeds are contaminated.


Thus, Biowatch requested information on GM permits from the Department of Agriculture, demanding the right to environmental impact assessments. When their requests were repeatedly ignored, Biowatch filed a suit against the government.

The chances of a local nonprofit winning against a trans-national industrial agriculture company were grim. The stakes were enormous and the stakes were global.

In a hard-won, groundbreaking victory, the Constitutional Court ruled in favor of Biowatch in 2009. Biowatch’s case helped win legislative reforms around access to information and bolstered local organizing in South Africa and beyond.

Most importantly, Biowatch and others continues to fight for small farmers’ seeds – protecting the continuity and sacredness of life.

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