issue is how to balance the individual regulatory needs and approaches of countries with the goal of promoting freer trade. This issue arises not only for SPS standards but also in regard to regulations that affect other areas such as environmental quality, working conditions, and the exercise of intellectual property rights.
This conference focused on these issues in the specific area of SPS measures. This area includes provisions to protect plant and animal health and life and, more generally, the environment, and regulations that protect humans from foodborne risks. The Society for Risk Analysis defines a risk as the potential for realization of unwanted, adverse consequences to human life, health, property, or the environment; estimation of risk is usually based on the expected value of the conditional probability of the event occurring times the consequence of the event given that it has occurred.
SPS regulations that come under the purview of the World Trade Organization (WTO) SPS Agreement are those that (1) protect animal or plant life or health within a territory from risks arising from the entry, establishment or spread of pests, diseases, disease-carrying organisms, or disease-causing organisms; (2) protect human or animal life or health within a territory from risks arising from additives, contaminants, toxins, or disease-causing organisms in foods, beverages, or feedstuffs; (3) protect human life or health within a territory from risks arising from diseases carried by animals, plants, or products thereof, or from entry, establishment, or spread of pests; or (4) prevent or limit other damage within a territory from the entry, establishment, or spread of pests (see Appendix A for WTO SPS Agreement 1994, Annex A).
The task of this conference and of this report was to elucidate the place of science, culture, politics, and economics in the design and implementation of SPS measures and in their international management. The goal was to explore the critical roles and the limitations of the biological and natural sciences and the social sciences, such as economics, sociology, anthropology, philosophy, and political science in the management of SPS issues and in judging whether particular SPS measures create unacceptable barriers to international trade. The conference's objective also was to consider the elements that would compose a multidisciplinary analytical framework for SPS decision making and needs for future research.
A two-and-a-half-day conference was held in Irvine, California, January 25–27, 1999, to examine the roles of the biological and natural sciences, economics, sociology, politics, and culture in the management of trade issues related to SPS standards in the post-Uruguay Round era. Speakers and participants were drawn from across several disciplinary backgrounds: biology and natural sciences, sociology, economics, political science, and philosophy. They represented government agencies, universities, consumer and environmental groups, and producer organizations. Geographically, they represented the United States, Mexico, and the European Union. The conference