Agriculture & food

The investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) mechanism included in most trade and investment agreements gives foreign investors the right to challenge national laws and regulations related to agriculture and food, would these regulations represent an obstacle to their profits.

About 4% of all ICSID cases concerned agriculture, fishing and forestry issues as of end of 2014.

Most well-known cases include:

• Corn Products International (US) vs. Mexico: in 2009 US$58.4 million were awarded to the agribusiness producer of high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) – a derived sweetener linked to obesity. The investor challenged a government tax levied on beverages sweetened with HFCS (NAFTA invoked).

• Cargill (US) vs. Mexico: US$90.7 million awarded to the food-processing giant in 2009. The investor successfully challenged the abovementioned Mexican tax on HFCS (NAFTA invoked).

• Micula (Sweden) vs. Romania: US$250 million awarded to the multiple food-processing company in 2013, following the termination of incentives from the Romanian government in order to comply with EU law (Romania-Sweden BIT invoked).

(October 2015)

Gene Ethics | 24-Apr-2014
Australian PM Abbott’s trade deals with Korea, Japan and 12 other Pacific rim countries may give foreign companies the right to sue our governments for claimed losses over GM-free zones. A Greens Bill now in the Senate seeks to stop corporate predators having this right in all future treaties.
Les Echos | 14-Apr-2014
Un tribunal arbitral constitué sous l’égide du CIRDI condamnait l’Etat roumain à verser aux frères Micula, citoyens suédois ayant investi dans la distribution alimentaire et de boissons, le montant de 250 millions de dollars de dommages et intérêts.
| 12-Apr-2014
The Greens and independent senator Nick Xenophon have said the government will face a tough battle if it seeks to ease foreign investment restrictions.
Novethic | 15-Jan-2014
De part et d’autre de l’Atlantique, des dizaines d’ONG surveillent de près le partenariat transatlantique de commerce et d’investissement négocié actuellement entre l’Union européenne et les États-Unis. Dans leur collimateur, une clause défendant la protection des investisseurs au détriment de celle des citoyens et de l’environnement.
Reuters | 22-Feb-2013
Cargill has reached a settlement with Mexico in a dispute that resulted in a $77 million arbitration award for the US agribusiness company
National Farmers Union | 16-Feb-2013
The National Farmers Union is among the labour, environmental, Indigenous, women’s, academic, health sector and fair trade organizations representing over 65 million people from both sides of the Atlantic that have signed a joint statement demanding that Canada and the EU stop negotiating an excessive and controversial investor rights chapter in the proposed Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA).
Reuters | 15-Nov-2012
US agribusiness company Cargill Inc. filed a suit in a US court on Tuesday to compel Mexico to pay a $94.6 million award over trade barriers the company says Mexico put up against high-fructose corn syrup from 2002 to 2007.
Public Citizen | 2-Mar-2011
The award in agribusiness giant Cargill’s NAFTA investor-state attack on Mexico’s jobs program was published last week.
IISD | 9-Oct-2009
Mexico has suffered another loss in a series of investor-state arbitral disputes involving its sugar industry.
| 3-Apr-2009
Dow AgroSciences is mulling over a NAFTA challenge to Quebec’s law banning the cosmetic use of pesticides, setting a spotlight on one of the most controversial clauses of the trade agreement among Canada, the United States and Mexico.

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