Information about the organization
THE 10 MISUNDERSTANDINGS: 5. anti-health?
The WTO does NOT dictate to governments on issues such as food safety, and human health and safety. Again commercial interests do NOT override

The agreements were negotiated by WTO member governments, and therefore the agreements reflect their concerns.

1. WTO dictates?
Blindly for trade?
Ignores development?
5. Anti-health?
6. Wrecks jobs?
Small left out?
Tool of lobbies?
Weak forced to join?

See also:
The WTO in Brief
10 benefits
Understanding the WTO

Safety, yes; protectionism in disguise, no.






Safety concerns are built into the WTO agreements


Key clauses in the agreements (such as GATT Art. 20) specifically allow governments to take actions to protect human, animal or plant life or health. But these actions are disciplined, for example to prevent them being used as an excuse for protecting domestic producers — protectionism in disguise.

Some of the agreements deal in greater detail with product standards, and with health and safety for food and other products made from animals and plants. The purpose is to defend governments’ rights to ensure the safety of their citizens.

As an example, a WTO dispute ruling justified a ban on asbestos products on the grounds that WTO agreements do give priority to health and safety over trade.

At the same time, the agreements are also designed to prevent governments setting regulations arbitrarily in a way that discriminates against foreign goods and services. Safety regulations must not be protectionism in disguise.

They must be based on scientific evidence or on internationally recognized standards.

Again, the WTO does not set the standards itself. In some cases other international agreements are identified in the WTO’s agreements. One example is Codex Alimentarius, which sets recommended standards for food safety and comes under the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and World Health Organization (WHO).

But there is no compulsion to comply even with internationally negotiated standards such as those of Codex Alimentarius. Governments are free to set their own standards provided they are consistent in the way they try to avoid risks over the full range of products, are not arbitrary, and do not discriminate.

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