We writers live or die by our words. Not so strange then, that I’m always curious about new words and how they were birthed so you will understand that when I read a piece about the mammoth seed corporation, Monsanto and charges of ‘ecocide’, I just had to do my due diligence.
The meaning of the word seemed obvious – a simple combination of a prefix , ‘eco-‘ and a suffix ‘-cide’ producing in combination a reference to the murder of the environment but questions about the validity of the word remained. When was this word coined, and under what curcumstances? Is this a legal term, I mean, can someone be charged with ecocide? By which law enforcement body? Really, is this a law somewhere? And how exactly would the charge be proved, beyond a reasonable doubt? Can science support a charge of ecocide?
Ecocide, the word, was first used by scientists arguing against the use of dioxin, a powerful herbicide, employed by the US as a weapon in Vietnam. The Yale plant biologist, Arthur Galston, is credited with the first usage in an address in Washington in 1970. (Source- blog by the Rachel Carson Center) These days, it is fashionable in some circles to pretend that the pollution of the environment is not a problem.
In 1948 the term genocide came into the common lexicon largely in response to the horrific events of the War. The definition and usage were controversial but the implementation of the term as law made the prosecution of that class of war criminals possible. Now some environmental activists are hoping for similar actions to proceed out of this new legal term.
A People’s Tribunal is to be convened between October 14th and 16th 2016, in the Hague, Netherlands. It will try Monsanto for human-rights violations, for crimes against humanity, and for ecocide.
Who would you charge with ecocide?