Research Handbook on Environment, Health and the WTO
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Research Handbook on Environment, Health and the WTO

Edited by Geert Van Calster and Denise Prévost

This Handbook provides state-of-the-art analysis by leading authors on the links between the international trade regime and health and environment concerns – concerns that make up an increasing proportion of WTO dispute settlement. Research Handbook on Environment, Health and the WTO surveys fields as diverse as climate change mitigation, non-communicable diseases, nanotechnology and public health care. The volume brings to the fore the debates and complexities surrounding these issues and their implications for the international trading system.
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Chapter 6: Law and economics of the SPS Agreement: a critical perspective

Alessandra Arcuri


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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