In Court

Published: Friday 15 July 2005

giving up?: Indonesia and US-based mining giant Newmont Mining Corp have agreed for an out of court settlement of the US $133 million civil suit filed by the country's environment ministry against the company for causing environmental damages. Newmont denies that its gold mine polluted a bay, 2,200 kilometres northeast of Jakarta, causing food contamination and health problems among people. It insists its emissions were in keeping with the country's regulations.

"The mediation is over and it failed ...Upon the end of the mediation, the two sides faced the chief judge and they agreed for a negotiation out of court," said I Wayan Renaw, a judge at the South Jakarta court. Both the parties have to report their decision to the court in July 2005. Indonesia's chief economics minister Aburizal Bakrie had already stated the government's inclination for such a settlement some time ago, but the matter was sub judice then. Newmont's lawyer said the company welcomes the development and was waiting for details of the possible settlement.

bad maize: Biotech major Monsanto recently suffered a blow in connection with the safety of its genetically modified maize variety, code-named MON863. On June 10, 2005, a German court ordered it to disclose the details of an internal report that exposes abnormalities in rats fed on the variety, which is awaiting a licence by EU agriculture ministers; the application is due for consideration on June 24, 2005. The results of the study, which were exposed by a journal some time ago, raised concerns. Monsanto filed the lawsuit against the German government after the latter supported the demand by environmental group Greenpeace for the study results to be made public.

The study says the rats had malformed kidneys and unusually high levels of white blood cells. Monsanto argues the abnormalities were purely coincidental. The European Food Safety Agency has already asked for a copy of the study.

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