- October 28, 2022
- Posted by: OptimizeIAS Team
- Category: DPN Topics
The Centre for Environment and Agriculture has claimed that the European Union has put trade barriers on agriculture imports by setting stiff quality standards.
- The pesticide maximum residue level of less than 0.01 ppm (parts per million) followed by the European Union on imports is inconsistent with the provisions of the SPAs agreement (on Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures) of the World Trade Organisation.
- A level of less than 0.01 ppm maximum residue levels (MRLs) means one gram of pesticide residue in 100 tonnes of food commodity.
- The almost zero tolerance level of less than 0.01 ppm acts as a strong non-tariff barrier to agriculture imports, especially from developing countries.
- The default of less than 0.01 ppm is not the risk-based assessment required by SPA agreement but is hazard-based.
- Under the SPS agreement, the WTO has set out basic rules for food safety and animal and plant health standards.
- The agreement, which says that the SPS standards should be based on science, should be applied only to the extent of protecting human, animal, and plant life.
- The Agreement on the Application of Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures (the “SPS Agreement”) entered into force with the establishment of the World Trade Organization on 1 January 1995.
- It sets out the basic rules on food safety and animal and plant health standards that governments are required to follow.
- The basic aim of the SPS Agreement is to maintain the sovereign right of any government to provide the level of health protection it deems appropriate, but to ensure that these sovereign rights are not misused for protectionist purposes and do not result in unnecessary barriers to international trade.
- Members are encouraged to use international standards, guidelines and recommendations but may adopt higher levels of protection if there is scientific justification for it, or if they are based on appropriate assessment of risks.
- The SPS Agreement allows countries to use different methods of control, inspection and approval procedures to verify compliance with adopted standards.
- The SPS Committee is the forum where WTO members discuss issues related to the implementation of the SPS Agreement and potential trade concerns. All decisions are reached by consensus. The Agreement also mandates the SPS Committee to develop a procedure to monitor the process of international harmonization and to coordinate with the relevant organizations.
- Which are the relevant standard-setting organizations for the SPS Agreement?
- FAO/WHO Codex Alimentarius Commission (Codex): for food safety
- World Organization for Animal Health (OIE): for animal health and zoonoses
- FAO International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC): for plant protection.
The Codex Committee on Pesticide Residues (CCPR)
- It is responsible for establishing Codex Maximum Residue Limits (MRLs) for pesticide residues in specific food items or in groups of food or feed that move in international trade.
- Before a Codex MRL can be established human health risk assessments must be conducted to ensure the food supply is safe.
- It is the responsibility of the Joint FAO/WHO Meeting on Pesticide Residues (JMPR) to review the appropriate toxicology and data obtained mainly from supervised trials, that reflect approved pesticide use in accordance with “good agricultural practice.”
- JMPR conducts dietary risk assessments and recommends specific MRLs to the Codex Committee.