|WTO case and the Cartagena Protocol (9/8/2006)|
An interesting article on the WTO and GMOs.
EXCERPT ONLY: The Panel took a firm and arguably inconsistent approach to the effect of other international treaties on its interpretation of WTO rules. The Panel ruled that it only had to rely on other treaties if it found them useful, and that it was under no circumstances obliged to do so. Despite the fact that the Cartagena Protocol, ratified by 132 countries (although, as noted above, not by the Complaining Parties), is a comprehensive agreement specifically addressing genetically modified organisms, the Panel found that it did not need to consider it in interpreting the SPS Agreement. As part of its reasoning, the Panel found that, because the Complaining Parties were not parties to the Cartagena Protocol, the treaty was not applicable in their relations as WTO members.
A significant international legal debate exists regarding the relationship between the WTO and multilateral environmental agreements, such as the Cartagena Protocol. In previous WTO case law, such international agreements have been considered as part of the WTO-compliance analysis. The EC Biotech ruling may signal that other treaties are only relevant when all parties to the dispute, or even possibly all WTO members, are parties to the other treaties. One strategy to minimize exposure to other countries' trade restrictions would therefore be to withdraw from, or not sign on to, treaties which contemplate trade-limiting obligations or powers.
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