By G.R. Thomson, E.N. Tambi, S.J. Hargreaves, T.J. Leyland, A. Catley, G.G.M. Van’t Klooster, and M-L Penrith (2004). Veterinary Record 155, 429-433
International animal health standards designed to facilitate safe trade in livestock and livestock products are set by the Office International des Epizooties (OIE) under the Sanitary and Phytosanitary Agreement of the World Trade Organization (WTO) and documented in the OIE’s Terrestrial Animal Health Code. A core principle of the Code is the need for countries to eradicate important transboundary animal diseases (TADs) to reduce the risk of exporting disease to trading partners. International food safety standards are set by the Codex Alimentarius Commission, administered jointly by the World Health Organization and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. The goal of global eradication of most TADs is unachievable for the foreseeable future, other than in the case of rinderpest, and this prevents many countries, especially developing nations, from engaging in international trade under WTO rules. This paper proposes an alternative, commodity-based approach to the formulation of international animal health and food safety standards, based on the fact that different commodities pose very different risks when it comes to the spread of human and animal pathogens. Therefore, the risk mitigation strategies required are equally commodity-dependent. The authors conclude that more focused commodity standards would improve access to international markets for all countries, especially those in the developing world. For this objective to be realised, credible and independent certification is required.