A4NH / Agri-Health / Animal Diseases / Article / Food Safety / Trade / Zoonotic Diseases

Standard-setting organizations for safe livestock trade need to evolve and collaborate more closely to meet new challenges

A new paper by by GK Bruckner, of South Africa, Ensuring safe international trade: how are the roles and responsibilities evolving and what will the situation be in ten years’ time?, outlines the changing and evolving roles and responsibilities in ensuring safe international trade in animals and animal products.

Bruckner’s abstract follows.

‘The roles of the international standard-setting bodies that are mandated to facilitate safe trade, such as the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE), the Codex Alimentarius Commission, the International Plant Protection Convention and the World Trade Organization, are well documented, as are the roles of the international organisations responsible for global health issues: the OIE, the World Health Organization and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.

‘However, developments in international trade, such as accelerating globalisation and the frequent emergence and re-emergence of diseases affecting both humans and animals, have brought new challenges and the need to reconsider the future roles of such organisations. New participants and new demands have also emerged to challenge these mandates, leading to potential areas of conflict. The need for countries to establish themselves as new trade partners, or to strengthen their positions while still maintaining safe trade, poses a challenge to standard-setting organisations, which must meet these demands while still remaining sensitive to the needs of developing countries. In this paper, the author describes and discusses some of these challenges and suggests how international organisations could evolve to confront such issues.’

Among the conclusions of the paper are the following.

‘While the responsibilities of the main international organisations, such as the OIE, Codex, IPPC and WTO in facilitating safe trade, and the OIE, WHO and FAO in promoting global disease control, are reasonably well defined, changes in the international scene have brought new challenges and a need to reconsider the future evolution of the missions of these organisations. In the past, it was probably easier for these organisations to function in parallel with each other, while maintaining clearly demarcated mandates. Issues such as those emerging in the interface between humans, animals and ecosystems, trade globalisation and the rapid and unprecedented global spread of diseases have all contributed to softening the borders between these organisations.

‘Recent disease outbreaks, such as the H5N1 pandemic, have highlighted the many areas of mutual concern that require the attention of more than one international organisation. The number of private organisations becoming involved in safe trade issues has also increased. Linked to this is the reality that more than two-thirds of the Members of these international organisations are developing countries that do not have the ability either to negotiate or compete with the established participants in international trade. These countries will, for the foreseeable future, remain dependent on international organisations to assist them in achieving their trade needs.

‘In recognising the fast-changing international trade environment, and the challenge that this poses to international organisations, it is equally important that the international organisations should continue to strengthen their mutual roles to act as the arbiters between purely trade-centred needs and the requirement to ensure safe trade in animals and animal products.’

Read the whole paper at Rev. sci. tech. Off. int. Epiz. by GK Bruckner: Ensuring safe international trade: how are the roles and responsibilities evoling and what will the situation be in ten years’ time? 2011, 30 (1), 317-324.

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