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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 12: Risk and protection for grains: analysis and quarantine

Donald MacLaren


Donald MacLaren 12.1 INTRODUCTION The agenda for agricultural trade negotiations in the WTO has expanded during the 1990s and the relative importance of items on that agenda has altered. It has grown to include not only the traditional areas of variable import levies, import quotas, domestic assistance and export subsidies, but greater weight has now been placed on the newer issues of the technical barriers to trade which stem from the public’s increasing concerns about food safety and environmental protection. For example, in the European Union during 1997, concerns about BSE, about pesticide and antibiotic residues in foods, about contamination of foods by bacteria, and about genetically modified organisms in food products, led two-thirds of respondents in a survey on food safety to express concerns about food safety (EU, 1998). In the same year, fire blight disease again became a source of tension between Australia and New Zealand because of the former’s continued refusal to lift a quarantine ban on imports of apples from the latter; China banned imports of all wheat from the United States because of an outbreak of karnal bunt in some regions of the US; and the long-running dispute between the US and the European Union about the latter’s ban on imports of beef produced using synthetic growth hormones (beef-hormones) was eventually settled by a WTO dispute panel and then by an Appellate panel in favour of the former.1 In Australia during 1994, there was considerable debate about the wisdom of considering the importation of bulk...

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