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 11: Scope of application of the SPS Agreement: a post-Biotech analysis

Jacqueline Peel


The Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures Agreement (SPS Agreement), which came into being with the World Trade Organization (WTO) in 1995, is one of several novel agreements that focus on non-tariff trade barriers posed by certain forms of domestic regulation. The SPS Agreement formed part of the Uruguay Round’s broader negotiations on agriculture and so at its heart is concerned with domestic measures that might restrict trade in agricultural goods, such as overly restrictive quarantine or food safety laws. However, what may be considered a sanitary or phytosanitary (SPS) measure is potentially much broader given the ‘deeply ambiguous’ definition of SPS measures in Annex A.1 of the SPS Agreement. This potential was realized in the WTO dispute of Biotech, in which a WTO panel gave an exceptionally expansive reading to the notion of SPS measures in its consideration of the application of the SPS Agreement to European Union (EU) regulations for genetically modified organisms (GMOs).

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