Publications: International Trade

Nation-Specific Risk Tolerance in the WTO: US-Continued Suspension of Obligations in the EC-Hormones Dispute

Alison Peck Associate Professor of Law West Virginia University College of Law

When WTO member states seek to restrict imports on the grounds of protecting public health and safety, those restrictions must be justified under the provisions of the Agreement on the Application of Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures, one of the agreements that make up the WTO system.  Recently, the WTO’s dispute resolution arm considered attempts to justify restrictions on hormone-treated beef and on biotech products.  In doing so, the WTO announced a standard that permits greater individuality of SPS measures among WTO members, while also ensuring a rigorous scientific review of even the most nation-specific solutions. This article describes the SPS Agreement, discusses the important cases, and explains the decision, standard and practical effects of the ruling.      Download this article. Posted: August 3, 2009

International Legal Issues Concerning Animal Cloning and Nanotechnology — More of the Same or Are “The Times They Are A-Changin'”?

Michael T. Roberts Attorney at Law

In the global food system, emerging technologies such as use of growth-promotion hormones for cattle, genetic modification for plants and animals and, in more recent times, animal cloning and nanotechnology spark methods of production that are both novel and engender controversy. These technologies spawn debate over legal, ethical, social, moral, and religious issues. The divergent responses to these issues that sharply divide the worlds trading partners have mushroomed into widely-followed, protracted disputes at the World Trade Organization (WTO).   This article outlines the international law framework that will deal with these issues and will explain the factual and legal backdrop in the two food-production cases before the WTO that have created sharp divisions between the United States and Europe and agitated the world food community for years: EC Measures Concerning Meat and Meat Products (Hormone Beef) and European Communities-Measures Affecting the Approval and Marketing of Biotech Products (Biotech Products). This article also briefly summarizes the emerging technologies used in the production of food product,  animal cloning and nanotechnology, examines the developing national regulatory responses in the United States and Europe, and poses twenty issues that help frame the debate over these emerging technologies.       Download this article. Posted: December 4, 2008.

Guide to Compliance with the Japanese Positive List

Deanna Fortna Jones Senior Attorney Archer Daniels Midland Company

Effective May 29, 2006, the Japanese authorities implemented new regulations for maximum residue limits (MRLs) of approximately 800 agricultural chemicals in foods imported into Japan..  These new MRLs, together with approximately 10,000 existing MRLS already established by the Japanese government, are known as the positive list,” compliance with which is necessary for importing food  and food components into Japan.  This practical article outlines steps that companies should take and concerns they should address to minimize the risk of economic harm resulting from a potential delay or ban.     Download this article. Posted: September 22, 2008.

Summary of the WTO Interim Report in EC-Biotech

Alison Peck Graduate Assistant National Agricultural Law Center

This article summarizes the Interim Report of the Dispute Settlement Panel of the World Trade Organization (“WTO”) in the matter of Europe Communities – Measures Affecting the Approval and Marketing of Biotech Products (“EC – Biotech”).  The Report was released confidentially to the parties on February 7, 2006, but Friends of the Earth-Europe published a leaked copy on its website.  According to news reports, the Appellate Body adopted the Report as its final ruling on May 10, 2006.    Download this article Posted: September 19, 2006

World Trade Organization and the Commodity Title of the Next Farm Bill: A Practitioner’s View

Doug O’Brien Senior Staff Attorney National Agricultural Law Center and Drake Agricultural Law Center

Traditionally, the major factors affecting the changes in a farm bill are the state of the farm economy, the condition of the federal budget, and who is in power in Congress at the time of the bill’s consideration. To be sure, all of these factors will again play a major role in the next farm bill. But an influence that has many times provided background context to farm bill deliberations is now up front and squarely facing policy makers: current and future trade policy. The impact of the Brazil Cotton Case has shifted current trade policy in a way that may force domestic policy to change. Further, the debate surrounding the next farm bill could very well coincide with the negotiations for the next major multi-lateral agricultural trade agreement, known as the World Trade Organization Doha Round. The timing both highlights and heightens the new significance that United States’ trade obligations have on domestic policy. This article examines how this new factor might influence Congress’ farm bill debate.     Download this article Posted: April 26, 2006