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Globalization and the Environment

Risk Assessment and the WTO

Edited by David Robertson and Aynsley Kellow

One of the unforeseen consequences of the WTO agreements has been controversy over risk. This volume explores aspects of risk with special reference to the WTO, where national instruments to reduce risk may conflict with international trade rules. The book is divided into sections dealing with: accounting for risk in trade agreements; risk and the WTO; managing risk in policy making; negotiating experience with risk; national risks and quarantine standards; and managing biotechnology.
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Chapter 7: Allowing for risk in setting standards

Michael J. Nunn


Michael J. Nunn Risk analysis has been recognized only recently as a formal study in its own right. Several attempts have been made to develop a standardized nomenclature in, for example, disciplines such as animal health (Hathaway, 1991; Ahl et al., 1993; Kellar, 1993; MacDiarmid, 1993; OIE, 1994; North, 1995) and food safety (Codex, 1993; ANZFA, 1996; Notermans and Mead, 1996). However, there is still some confusion about the precise definition of the elements in risk analysis (Krewski and Birkwood, 1987; Covello and Merkhofer, 1993). For example, some authorities use ‘risk management’ instead of ‘risk analysis’ for the overall term (for example SA/SNZ, 1995) while others use ‘risk analysis’ more narrowly as including elements such as risk identification, assessment and evaluation but excluding risk management and communication. Despite such variations in terminology, the basic principles are the same across all disciplines (Nunn, 1997). Risk analysis is used here as the overall term to encompass elements of risk assessment, risk management and risk communication. Risk assessment is the process of identifying and estimating the risk associated with an option, including evaluation of the likelihood of an event and of the consequences if that event were to occur. Risk management is the process of identifying, documenting and implementing measures to reduce risk (either the likelihood of occurrence or the consequences). Risk communication is the process of interactive exchange of information and opinions concerning risk between risk analysts and stakeholders. This terminology helps avoid the mistake of treating risk communication as the process...

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