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The World Trade Organization and organic food trade potential for restricting protectionism?


The World Trade Organization and organic food trade potential for restricting protectionism?



Organic Agriculture 2(1): 55-66



ISSN/ISBN: 1879-4238

DOI: 10.1007/s13165-012-0024-9

This paper outlines the global food regulation regime and its institutions, focussing upon the way in which these address organic food trade. While the WTO agreements have rules for scientifically based policy measures adopted to protect human, animal or plant health or life, there is some disagreement on whether the WTO's Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade (addresses food labelling) covers production standards based on ethical values such as those defining organic food standards. Another problem is that two sets of international standards for organic food exist the Codex Alimentarius guidelines and the standards of the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements. Finally, many certification bodies are private organisations certifying on the basis of government standards. This blurs the distinction between private and public and questions whether WTO rules apply to these private organisations. It is concluded that this current state of affairs entails that organic food standards can potentially be used by governments as technical barriers to trade to protect their domestic organic producers from international competition. In the concluding section, the potential for improving the global organic food trade regime is discussed.

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Accession: 036517961

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