Examples of international organisations relevant to biotechnology include:
Building on GATT (1947), the WTO was established on 1 January 1995 by the Uruguay Round negotiations (1986-94). WTO’s main function is to ensure that trade flows as smoothly, predictably and freely as possible.
Becoming a member means agreeing to the general WTO Agreements, which define the rules of international trade. There is a ‘panel’ process for dispute settlement.
The general WTO Agreements are:
Additional agreements and annexes deal with specific sectors or issues, such as:
The SPS Agreement Sets out the rules by which countries establish their regulatory frameworks for food safety and animal and plant health:
Important in this context is that SPS applies also to products of modern biotechnology, and that SPS acknowledges international standard setting bodies (see next section) such as the Codex Alimentarius.
The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) was created in 1945 to lead international efforts to defeat hunger. Serving both developed and developing countries, FAO acts as a neutral forum where all nations meet as equals to negotiate agreements and debate policy. FAO also assists developing countries and countries in transition modernize and improve agriculture, forestry and fisheries practices and ensure good nutrition for all. Since its founding, FAO has focused special attention on developing rural areas, home to 70 percent of the world's poor and hungry people. FAO's overall mandate is to raise levels of nutrition, improve agricultural productivity, better the lives of rural populations and contribute to the growth of the world economy.
The Committee on Agriculture (COAG) in 1999 recommended FAO to develop a strategic approach in biotechnology and biosafety. The resulting FAO Statement on Biotechnology, which was published in March 2000, includes, among others, the following points:
These notions in the FAO Statement on biotechnology of 2002, are further elaborated and built upon in a number of subsequent documents and statements, such as:
World Organisation for Animal Health