Research Handbooks on the WTO series
Edited by Geert Van Calster and Denise Prévost
Chapter 6: Law and economics of the SPS Agreement: a critical perspective
In high-tech and globalized societies the realm of environment, health and safety regulation (hereinafter risk regulation) is unsurprisingly contentious. On one hand the development of new technologies lies at the very heart of contemporary economies; on the other hand citizens are becoming increasingly aware of the risks that these technologies entail. Some groups will profit from technology while other groups will likely bear the costs. The implementation of certain safety standards may be very costly for the industry, but at the same time the lack of such standards may cause outrage among citizens and widespread damage across society. This type of conflict commonly accompanies the decision-making process about risk within a jurisdiction. To add fuel to the fire, the process of economic globalization driven by the World Trade Organization (WTO) challenges the current differences in risk governance among jurisdictions. WTO Members, in fact, are bound by the obligations established by the Agreement on Sanitary and Phytosanitary Standards (SPS).
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