Risk Assessment in the International Food Saftey Policy Arena Can the multilateral institutions encourage unbiased outcomes?

Two institutions provide multilateral venues for countries to discuss food safety measures at the international level: the Codex Alimentarius Commission (Codex) and the World Trade Organization. Both institutions encourage their members to base food safety standards on scientific evidence.

In this paper we provide a description of how food safety related scientific evidence is generated and how it is used in the context of risk assessment for international standard-setting at CODEX and in WTO trade disputes. In particular, we discuss the processes leading to policy conclusions on the basis of scientific evidence, with a focus on the interactions involved between private and public sector actors and those between “scientific experts” and others.

We identify weaknesses in the current institutional set-up and provide suggestions on how to improve the interaction between different players at the national and international level so as to strengthen the existing system and increase its cost efficiency.

No: ERSD-2009-01

Lee Ann Jackson and Marion Jansen — WTO

Manuscript date: January 2009

Key Words:

Food safety standards, risk assessment, policy capture, Codex Alimentarius Commission, WTO

JEL classification numbers:

F13, Q16, Q18


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This is a working paper, and hence it represents research in progress. This paper represents the opinions of the author, and is the product of professional research. It is not meant to represent the position or opinions of the WTO or its Members, nor the official position of any staff members. Any errors are the fault of the author. Copies of working papers can be requested from the divisional secretariat by writing to: Economic Research and Statistics Division, World Trade Organization, Rue de Lausanne 154, CH 1211 Geneva 21, Switzerland. Please request papers by number and title.

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