Economic, Legal and Political Perspectives
Leuven Global Governance series
Edited by Axel Marx, Miet Maertens, Johan Swinnen and Jan Wouters
Chapter 9: WTO Perspectives on Private Standards
26/6/12/final 9. Food safety-related private standards: the WTO perspective Gretchen H. Stanton1 INTRODUCTION The international trade agreements of the World Trade Organization (WTO) have been negotiated by the governments of the 155 countries/ territories that are members of the WTO. These are normally seen as the rules that are to be respected by governments when establishing national requirements that aﬀect international trade. The discussions at the various WTO committees are therefore among government representatives and normally about government policies. However, in June 2005, a representative of the small Caribbean island nation of St. Vincent and the Grenadines complained about restrictions that aﬀected the ability of the country to sell bananas to the European Union (EU). This complaint, raised in the context of a meeting of the WTO Committee on Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures (SPS committee) in Geneva, was not about the oﬃcial pesticide residue requirements of the EU or of its member states, but rather about requirements established by a private, non-proﬁt organization, GLOBALG.A.P. (known at that time as EUREPGAP). By raising this speciﬁc trade concern, the small island triggered discussions at the WTO that have involved and divided more countries with respect to international food safety and health concerns than any other issue to date. THE WTO AGREEMENTS To understand why this issue has become so hotly debated, it is necessary to go back in time to the creation of the WTO. The WTO is an organization of member governments2 who have developed a...
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