The WTO system requires that trade restrictions to protect health and safety be based on a risk assessment supported by “sufficient scientific evidence.” Scholars and international standards organizations have pointed out, however, that science is not capable of providing answers to questions of health and safety without incorporation of value judgments and assumptions by the risk assessors. Before GMO-importing countries conduct risk assessments, GMO-producing and -exporting countries have already conducted separate risk assessments that led to the decision to produce and market the products in the first place. Both risk assessments – of exporting and importing countries – employ science informed by value judgments and assumptions of the risk assessors and their circumstances. Scrutinizing the risk assessments of both exporting and importing countries and making explicit the value judgments in both would level the playing field between GMO-producing and GMO-importing nations in the WTO. Instead of tacitly importing the value judgments made by the GMO-producing country, GMO-importing countries might highlight their distinct but situationally appropriate judgments and defend their risk assessments as supported by scientific evidence informed by those context-appropriate judgments.
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/alison_peck/1/