The obscure legal system that lets corporations sue countries

Source:The Guardian
Date: 15 Junes 2015
Author: Claire Provost and Matt Kennard

Fifty years ago, an international legal system was created to protect the rights of foreign investors. Today, as companies win billions in damages, insiders say it has got dangerously out of control

Luis Parada’s office is just four blocks from the White House, in the heart of K Street, Washington’s lobbying row – a stretch of steel and glass buildings once dubbed the “road to riches”, when influence-peddling became an American growth industry. Parada, a soft-spoken 55-year-old from El Salvador, is one of a handful of lawyers in the world who specialise in defending sovereign states against lawsuits lodged by multinational corporations. He is the lawyer for the defence in an obscure but increasingly powerful field of international law – where foreign investors can sue governments in a network of tribunals for billions of dollars.

Fifteen years ago, Parada’s work was a minor niche even within the legal business. But since 2000, hundreds of foreign investors have sued more than half of the world’s countries, claiming damages for a wide range of government actions that they say have threatened their profits. In 2006, Ecuador cancelled an oil-exploration contract with Houston-based Occidental Petroleum; in 2012, after Occidental filed a suit before an international investment tribunal, Ecuador was ordered to pay a record $1.8bn – roughly equal to the country’s health budget for a year. (Ecuador has logged a request for the decision to be annulled.) Continue reading The obscure legal system that lets corporations sue countries

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Experimental GMO Wheat Crop Fails to Deter Pests

Source:Natural Society
Date: 7 September 2015
Author: Christina Sarich

Biotech’s claims that genetically modified crops are more resistant to bugs seem to be dismissed like yesterday’s pastries, especially when their crops so obviously fail to deliver on the promise. So why are farmers still planting GM seed?

In a recent biotech debacle, a UK-based biotech company wasted over $5 million on an experimental GM wheat trial.

Rothamsted Research says it is “disappointed” that the transgenic crop, known as “whiffy wheat,” utterly failed to deter aphids. The crop was succumbing to the same amount of insect damage as real wheat, even though it was genetically engineered to be resistant to aphids. Continue reading Experimental GMO Wheat Crop Fails to Deter Pests