Environmental Regulation and Food Safety: Studies of Protection and Protectionism

By Veena Jha; Edward Elgar | Go to book overview
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7. Summary and Conclusions

Veena Jha


EFFECTS OF ENVIRONMENTALAND HEALTH
MEASURES ON TRADE

Environmental requirements are different from other factors, such as product quality or fashion, which may also affect developing countries' exports. For example, environmental requirements, especially those related to process and production methods (PPMs), are more likely to be based on specific values than other requirements. Pressure groups may be especially vocal on issues of environmental protection, even outside their own countries. In addition, importers may want their foreign suppliers to comply with certain PPMrelated requirements. One element, which is particularly relevant in the case of health and SPS measures, is the possible use of the precautionary approach as opposed to strict scientific evidence. It is important to note that, depending upon the purpose of the measure that is applied vis-à-vis imports, each measure will have different legal consequences under the WTO. But this should not, in any way, prevent WTO Members from pursuing what they believe are legitimate policy objectives, whether related to environment, food safety or plant and animal health.

The importance of SPS measures in the global context is growing because of the increased trade in food products. First, the growth in trade in food products is responsible for the increase in the international transmission of pests. Secondly, production chains are becoming more complex and new food-borne diseases are being detected. Additionally, GATT tariff bindings diminished the possibilities of national industry protection, providing ample room for nontariff barriers. Finally, consumer interests in certain markets demand that standards should focus on environmental concerns and not just on issues of quality or innocuousness. Obviously, if the number of standards increases, direct or indirect conformity assessment procedures to determine that relevant requirements in technical regulations are fulfilled will also multiply. According to a study carried out in the United States, the activities of testing laboratories which carry out conformity assessment evaluation have been expanding by 13.5 per cent a year.1

Food safety and environment standards will be very difficult to distinguish

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