Food Safety and Quality

Trade Considerations

Highly publicised outbreaks of food-borne diseases have put food safety at the heart of a topical debate. Demands for increased food safety regulation and stricter enforcement have gained momentum. In fact, consumer concerns go well beyond basic food safety. The quality of food and how it is produced, animal welfare, the use of genetically modified organisms (GMOs), hormones and other growth promoters, cultural preferences, resource sustainability and protection of the environment have all become major issues in the public debate over regulation of the food industry. The issues are complex and the required policy response remains unclear. With the strengthening of international rules, increased trade in consumer food products and the growing use of biotechnology, trade conflicts over food regulatory issues and their reform could become more common. The economic stakes are high and such disputes are likely to remain a priority in the future trade agenda. This report examines the trade conflicts arising from food safety and quality issues. It summarises the key international agreements, illustrates the range and nature of current disputes, reviews the potential contributions of economic analysis to conflict resolution, and identifies areas requiring further analysis.

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