The Key Provisions of the Agreement

The SPS Agreement is a multilateral framework consisting of rules and disciplines intended to achieve its two-fold objective of ensuring Members’ rights to protect health, while aiming to prevent the imposition of arbitrary or unjustified trade barriers.

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2.1 Scientific justification

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Article 2 of the SPS Agreement stresses that Members have the right to adopt SPS measures to achieve their self-determined health protection level. This level, called the appropriate level of protection (ALOP) or the acceptable level of risk, represents a key feature of the SPS Agreement.

The right to adopt SPS measures to achieve a given appropriate level of protection is accompanied by basic obligations. Essentially, countries may adopt SPS measures provided the measures:

  • are applied only to the extent necessary to protect life or health;
  • are based on scientific principles and not maintained without sufficient scientific evidence (except emergency or provisional measures); and
  • do not unjustifiably discriminate between national and foreign, or among foreign sources of supply.

Members have two options to show that their measures are based on science. They may either:

To find out how this article has been applied in dispute settlement see relevant findings in the Variety Testing case.



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