The transparency provisions of the SPS agreement are designed to ensure that measures to protect human, animal and plant health are made known to the public and trading partners. The agreement obliges governments to immediately publish all health and plant health provisions and to present, at the request of another government, the reasons for a specific food or animal or plant safety requirement. (2) Where the appropriate level of health protection or plant protection allows for the gradual introduction of new sanitary or plant protection measures to combat proliferation, longer compliance times for products of interest to members of developing countries should be provided in order to obtain export opportunities. The SPS agreement established a committee on health and plant health measures (the “SPS Committee”) to ensure the implementation of the SPS agreement on measures relating to food security or animal and plant health. Like other WTO committees, the SPS Committee is open to all WTO member countries. Governments that have observer status in the WTO`s senior bodies (such as the Goods Trade Council) may also be observers on the SPS committee. The committee agreed to invite representatives of several international intergovernmental organizations, including Codex, OIE, IPPC, WHO, UNCTAD and the International Organization for Standards (ISO), as observers. Governments can send officials they deem appropriate to attend SPS committee meetings and many send their food safety authorities or veterinary or plant health officials. While the SPS agreement allows governments to maintain adequate health and plant health protection, it reduces the potential arbitrariness of decisions and promotes consistent decision-making. It requires that sanitary and plant health measures be applied for purposes other than ensuring food security and animal and plant health. In particular, the agreement clarifies the factors to be taken into account when assessing risk risk.
Measures to ensure food security and the protection of animal and plant health should, where possible, be based on the analysis and evaluation of objective and accurate scientific data. The agreement on the application of sanitary and plant health measures (“SPS agreement”) came into force on 1 January 1995 with the creation of the World Trade Organization. This includes the application of food safety rules, veterinary and plant health legislation. Governments are required to inform other countries of new or modified health and plant health requirements affecting trade and to set up offices (called “Enquiry Points”) to respond to requests for additional information on new or existing measures. They must also be open to monitoring how they enforce their food safety and animal and plant protection rules. The systematic transmission of information and the exchange of experiences between WTO member governments provide a better basis for national standards. This increased transparency also protects the interests of consumers and trading partners from protectionism hidden by unnecessary technical requirements. Under the SPS agreement, the WTO sets limits on Member States` policy on food security (bacterial contaminants, pesticides, inspection and labelling) and animal and plant health (phyto-hygiene) with regard to pests and imported diseases.