Last night's award ceremony, organised by Corso, GATT Watchdog, and the Campaign Against Foreign Control of Aotearoa is part of a programme of events opposed to the APEC meetings currently taking place in Christchurch.
The annual award is given to the transnational corporation judged to have had the most negative impact in New Zealand in each or all of the following fields: unemployment; monopoly; profiteering; abuse of workers/conditions; political interference; environmental damage; cultural imperialism; impact on tangata whenua; pursuing an ideological crusade; impact on women, and health and safety of workers and the public.
An excerpt from the judges' report reads: "This US corporate giant is not only seeking to control and monopolise the production of agricultural produce in the global economy, it is also responsible for promoting research and development on a wide range of genetically engineered products that have the potential to irreversibly alter and damage the ecosystem of the planet and the food supply of future generations. This threat needs to be taken seriously by New Zealanders as Monsanto is already petitioning the Environmental Risk Management Agency (ERMA) to grow genetically modified Canola over several hundred hectares on North Canterbury and Southland farms to produce seeds for the Canadian market.
Perhaps more worrying is the establishment of a Crown Institute/Monsanto quango, Gene Pool, with the backing of the Royal Society (representing the scientific establishment) to campaign for New Zealand to become a site in the development of genetic engineering. Such a strategy is also backed by Federated Farmers of New Zealand. It seems that just as the 1980s saw New Zealand become the testing ground for neo-liberalism or 'Rogernomics,' so the country is to become a laboratory for genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in the 21st century, the effects of which could be devastating for the environment, food supply, and population."
The judges also gave Fletcher Challenge a 'dishonourable award' because of "the negative impact of the company's forestry and pulp and paper operations in the Central North Island which have inflicted so much damage on indigenous communities . . . Despite claims to the contrary, the sale of the former ForestCorp has led to many job losses in communities such as Rotorua, Kaingaroa, and Taupo". Tranz Rail receives a 'continuity award' for "the company's persistent failure to address its appalling safety record, for which it received the inaugural 1997 Roger Award".
The other finalists were Independent Newspapers Ltd (INL), Carter Holt Harvey, and Telecom.
Leigh Cookson, a spokeswoman for the Roger Award organisers, said: "In the year that the government hosts APEC (Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation), it is well worth noting that Monsanto actively participates in APEC's Agricultural Technical Cooperation Experts' Group Committee, especially in its biotechnology workshops. APEC is just one of the tools being used to expand the rights of corporations like Monsanto to maximise their profits regardless of the costs to peoples and the environment. The Roger Award is one way to hold big business accountable and generate some much needed debate about the role of transnational corporations in New Zealand".
The three organisations behind the Roger Award have also created a new "Collaborator's Award" for the New Zealand individual or organisation which has collaborated most with transnational corporations.
"The inaugural award goes to the local mouthpiece for the interests of
global capital in New Zealand, the Business RoundTable, for its
ongoing political interference and its advocacy of profit-first,
people-last policies at national and local government level," says Ms
The Roger Award
PO Box 1905