Great news from Austria for campaigners for a better food system. The Alpine nation has decided to move towards banning glyphosate – a potentially cancer-causing herbicide.
Better known by its brand name Roundup, glyphosate has been at the centre of controversy for several years now after the World Health Organisation found that the substance was “probably carcinogenic to humans”.
The company behind it, Monsanto, has been engaged in a strong pushback campaign to keep the cancer-causing chemical on our shelves. But thanks to the fact that we didn’t pass TTIP – and therefore don’t have ISDS with the US – there are limits to what the company can do.
Austria’s parliament voted to ban all products containing the glyphostate on 2 July. But it isn’t just the Austrians who are worried. German Chancellor Angela Merkel has also said that “we will eventually come to a point where glyphosate isn’t deployed any more”. Local governments in the UK are also looking at phasing out the chemical.
The case of glyphosate is a good example of why it is essential that we stop ISDS completely. Had we signed up to TTIP, the company may have been able to claim that the ban was “indirect expropriation” and tried to win a huge payout. Of course, we cannot know for sure whether this would have happened and whether they would have won such a spurious case. But ISDS has a history of companies trying (and sometimes succeeding) to get away with quite egregious arguments.
For example, Mexico was successfully sued for trying to ban high-fructose corn syrup on health grounds. And tobacco giant Philip Morris lost a case against Uruguay where it argued that it should be compensated for the decision to put health warnings on cigarette packaging.
But luckily for the people of Austria, and Europe as a whole, we do not have an agreement with the USA that includes ISDS. That is thanks to the huge campaign our movement waged to stop it. Thanks to the campaign, ISDS is (for now) not an option on the table for Monsanto. Long may that stay the case.
Of course, the only way to ensure we’re safe is to get rid of ISDS completely.