Reforming the WTO to defuse potential trade disputes in genetically modified goods

Authors Organisations
Type Article
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)379-398
Number of pages20
JournalThe World Economy
Volume24
Issue number3
DOI
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2001
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Abstract

Arguably genetic modification is one of the most important technological change seen to date. Its effects on both human health and the environment are both profound and controversial. In particular consumers, mainly in the EU, have concerns regarding the long term effects of consuming genetically modified foods on their health. They are also concerned regarding the effect that genetically modified organisms will have on bio-diversity and choice in the long run. Differing regulatory regimes towards genetically modified goods in the US and EU could lead to damaging trade conflicts. Current agreements covering trade in foods such as the SPS and TBT allow a way of diffusing conflicts. The primary aim of these agreements is, however, to prevent governments from protecting domestic producers by applying capricious barriers to foreign competition. This paper sets out to show that rather than modifying these two agreements it would be better to deal with new issues surrounding consumer preferences explicitly by negotiating a new international agreement.

Keywords

  • trade, genetically modified goods, the US, the EU, the World Trade Organisation, Trade Conflict, Consumer Preferences, Reform